Think It Not Strange

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”
—I Peter 4:12,13

PERHAPS FEW HAVE learned to value the discipline of the Lord as did the faithful apostle who wrote these words. While he, as well as others, realized that no affliction for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous, yet knowing the ministry of such discipline, and recognizing it as an additional evidence of sonship to God, he rejoiced in being a partaker of it.

We are not to worry about the trials which may be ahead, but to remember the apostle’s words, when they do come, ‘Think it not strange.’ They come to prove us, to strengthen our character, and to cause the principles of Truth and righteousness to take deep root in our hearts.

They come like fiery darts from our great enemy, Satan, whose wrath against the children of light is permitted to manifest itself in various ways. But his darts cannot injure those who securely buckle on the divinely-provided armor of Truth and righteousness. “Wherefore,” says the apostle, “take unto you the whole armour of God, … Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts [not merely some of them] of the wicked.”—Eph. 6:13-16


The Apostle Paul, speaking concerning the church of the Gospel Age, says, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (II Tim. 3:12) God allows his people to have these experiences and to suffer for right doing. In the present time he is calling out a saintly company. This company will be the royal priesthood of the future, to bless all the world during Messiah’s reign. And the Bible explains to us that these need trials to prove and test their characters.

God wishes to see how loyal we are to the principles of righteousness. In the church there are some who would endure a certain amount and then withdraw. Others will endure more. The Lord declares that he is seeking those who will give up everything in order to prove faithful to their covenant with him. This faithfulness means entire loyalty to God, to his laws, which are the laws of righteousness.


These trials test the church and do a purifying work in their midst. It is an experience that must be endured by each one individually. Not only will the church as a whole have opposition against them, but each individual will be personally exposed to the fiery trials.

It is a different kind of trial from that which comes to any other body of people. The explanation of this difference can be briefly quoted in these words, ‘Inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.’

When we know that each member of the body of Christ must be tried, we can rejoice when some of this fire touches us. We can say, “I am having a share in the sufferings of Christ; I am glad that in God’s providence I have a share in these trials; for without them, how could I know that I am one of the body members?”


We all rejoice, knowing that these fiery trials are permitted by the Lord. Not that the Lord is the cause of them; for usually it is the Adversary. But we have put ourselves into the Lord’s hands, and he has promised to supervise all that concerns us. Therefore, whatever comes to us, we may be sure that it is of the Father’s purpose, or permission, for our good. If, therefore, we recognize that this is something that the Lord’s providence has arranged for us, it is all right, even though frequently we have to go to the throne of grace for help in time of need.

God has revealed to us that he purposes to give to the Christ (Jesus the Head, the church his body) very great exaltation; great glory, honor, and immortality. (Rom. 2:7) Therefore we are looking forward to the time when this body of Christ shall be completed, and we shall share in the glory of our Head.


Concerning the devilish disposition manifested toward our Lord, resulting in all his sufferings, we cannot think that mankind under any ordinary conditions could ever have had so malicious a spirit as that manifested against him. Evidently the Devil had to do with this, as also with all the wicked persecutions of the saints. The average man today would not permit the things done in the Dark Ages. The wicked feelings, however, may still be there, the animosity and bitterness. As the Apostle James says, “The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: … and setteth on fire the course of nature.” (James 3:6) In our day, the tongue and the pen are often used as weapons of evil.


Not only from the Adversary do these trials come, but they come from the weaknesses and imperfections of others. Perhaps those that come from Christians are the most difficult to bear. If in any one of the Lord’s professed people we find the persecuting spirit, we are the more discouraged and less likely to have the proper sympathy for them.

We are to remember, however, that nothing can happen to us unless the Father permits it. If we did not get the trials from certain ones, we would get them from somewhere else, in order to burn up our dross, and strengthen the elements of our character which need development. We are to take all these experiences patiently, knowing that they are working out for us a “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”—II Cor. 4:17

We are to look away from these difficulties, and recognize the grand purpose of God. We are to reflect that this is the way in which God is chiseling and polishing us to make us ready for the grand temple of glory. And when we think of this, we can look with fortitude and patience on these fiery trials, fully recognizing that we shall get rich blessings from them.


Thus we learn, as people of God, to rejoice in all things which he has done for us. The things in which we would naturally be least likely to be happy are our tribulations and persecutions. We can have joy also in these. Not that we enjoy the tribulations, the persecutions, but we realize that these are working for us characters pleasing to God. The Lord will see to it that we get enough, and not too much, tribulation.

It is for us to recognize that in all these trials the Lord makes them work for our good. We can therefore rejoice in any persecution, especially if we are in no way blameworthy. “If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed [feel disgraced]; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”—I Pet. 4:16


God has committed unto us the Word (message, good tidings) of reconciliation (at-one-ment); and we, each one, are to shine as lights in the world, holding forth this Word of life. Concerning the true Gospel, the world is a dark place. Sin and error abound. Is it any wonder, then, that as we continue to be faithful ‘ambassadors’ for Christ, following closely in his footsteps, we have the privilege and honor of suffering “with him” for righteousness sake?—Rom. 8:17

It is still true that whoever will faithfully exercise his ambassadorship, and not shun to declare the whole counsel of God, will soon know something of the sufferings of Christ, and can say truly, “The reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.”—Ps. 69:9

The powers of darkness and evil tend to deceive and discourage. These adverse influences, if not resisted, would lead us to lukewarmness—a weariness in well-doing.—Heb. 12:3

Directly, or indirectly, Satan introduces bitter aggression, painful injustice, against the faithful followers of Jesus to beat their courage down. They, like their Master, are reviled (abused in language), but they revile not in return. (I Pet. 2:23) Jesus, through the Revelator, has said, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne.” (Rev. 3:21) Suffer with him now, and we reign with him in the kingdom.


Should we say that we will not be reconciled to any certain experience? No! We have committed all to the Lord, and it is for us to bow in full submission, knowing by faith, and from the assurance of God’s Word, that all things are working together for our good.—Rom. 8:28

No matter what the trouble may be, it will bring patience, if we are rightly exercised. Some of the Lord’s people may have patience well developed, and thus not need so many of these experiences. But whatever we truly need, we should desire.

A certain brother prayed earnestly for patience to the Lord. He kept praying when difficult trials came, and the more he prayed, the more difficulties he seemed to have. Then it occurred to him that this was the answer to his prayer; for that was the way to get patience. When he began to see the matter aright, it encouraged him and made a great change. He realized that the Lord was answering his prayer by granting him the very experiences he needed to develop in his character this grace of the Spirit.


“Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” (Ps. 37:5,7) We must not be disappointed and allow our faith to falter when the test of patient endurance is applied, while the outward peace and quietness which we crave tarry long.

Outward peace and calm are not always the conditions best suited to our needs as New Creatures; and we would not desire conditions in which the precious fruits of the Spirit would not grow and develop in us. Therefore, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice.”—I Pet. 4:12

Our loving, tender God is wise and strong. His promises have never failed those who have put their trust in him. We may feel that our efforts to be good, and to do good, are very unproductive; that the oppositions from without and within are very strong. But it is when we are weak, when we realize our own helplessness and incompetency, that we may “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” (Eph. 6:10) It is then that we may realize that his strength is made perfect in our weakness.—II Cor. 12:9


It is when continued trust in the Lord and his responsive providence in our lives have ripened into precious personal acquaintance and intimacy that we learn to delight in him. It is when heart answers to heart, when pleading prayer brings recognized answers of peace, when the Divine love and care have been clearly seen in the guidance of our way, that we can recognize the abiding presence with us of the Father and his Son.

However dark may be our way and severe the storm that rages about us, the thought of Divine protection is ever with us, so that, as the children of the Lord, we are never in despair. Paul says though “cast down,” we are “not destroyed;” though “persecuted,” we are never “forsaken.” (II Cor. 4:9) We know our Father’s hand is ever at the helm, that his love and care are sure and unfailing.

The present mission of the church is to develop in herself every grace; to be God’s witness to the world; and to prepare to be the kings and priests in the Millennial Age. Then in glory, associated with the beloved sympathetic High Priest and King, the church shall establish God’s glorious kingdom in the earth. The fiery trials this side of the veil, in which we are to rejoice, fit us for eternity in the heavenly kingdom.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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