Frank E. Graeff (1860-1919) was a Methodist minister in Philadelphia, who went through severely trying experiences most of his life. During one especially difficult time of loss, overcome with grief, in despondency and doubt he began to question whether Jesus really cared about him and the tragedy that engulfed him. All he could see was darkness and despair. But fortunately, when he went to the Word of God, he read these words: “Casting all your care upon him for He careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
As he meditated on the words, “He careth for you,” they spoke deeply to his need. The truth behind the words gave light and assurance. Frank realized that, even during times of trials, struggles and weakness, Jesus still cares for His children. The Lord’s love and care for His children would never end. As he thought on that verse, the lyrics of a song began to form in his mind. He wrote:
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress, And the way grows weary and long?
Oh yes, He cares, I know He cares, His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares.
It is easy to get discouraged when difficulties come. We are facing a scary pandemic. But we know for sure that God knows for sure about our future that is sure, because it is in His hands. He is our Heavenly Father who, better than any earthly father, always loves and cares for His children.
Inspired words of Scripture can strengthen our faith, no matter what we face. As we saw last week, Peter wrote to encourage those suffering Christians by reminding them of their salvation in Christ and their hope of heaven, even while tribulations threatened to sweep them away. His reassuring words for them then, also apply to every believer in Christ now, because they are founded on biblical principles.
In First Peter 1:6, he revealed four principles we need to know as we face times of hardship:
1st Trials are Temporary ”In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while…”
Difficulties, trials and hardships are not eternal, nor for a lifetime, but only last “a little while” – the King James Version renders it “for a season”—a short determined amount of time.
2nd Trials are Necessary ”…if need be…”
The truth is, we need trials in our lives. When times of hardship come, they often help us grow as Christians, become fruitful, develop endurance, and be more devoted to prayer. As we have learned during the Coronavirus pandemic…trials forced us to stop and evaluate our lives.
3rd Trials are Difficult “…you have been distressed…”
Make no mistake—trials are difficult, distressing, even depressing. Though the period of grief is not long and is needful, that does not make it easy. The King James Version renders it: “ye are in heaviness” because of your trials.
The word for “distressed” or “heaviness” means a time of great pain or grief. It is the very word used to describe what Jesus endured in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He “began to be grieved and distressed” (Matthew 26:37). The KJV renders it “sorrowful and very heavy.” Imagine Jesus enduring such agony before the cross. Yes, trials are difficult.
The apostle John adds that Jesus said, “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, Father, save Me from this hour? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name” (John 12:27, 28). Vance Havner, the great Southern Baptist evangelist used to say: “What do you say, when you don’t know what to say? Say what Jesus said: ‘Father, glorify Your name!’”
We often experience trials, and the distress that accompanies them, when someone dies. This same Greek word for heaviness or distress was used by Paul to describe the sorrow that accompanied the death of a loved one—“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). It is natural to grieve—to be distressed and depressed—when a loved one passes away. Christians should not put on a stoic face or act unaffected, but should be honest in expressing their grief. But for the believer, who dies, the hope of the resurrection and future reunion in heaven, should prevent a life-shattering, hopeless grief.
4th Trials are Varied ”…by various trials.”
The Christian will face trials and tribulations of many kinds, from many sources. We may be distressed by “various trials.” The word means variegated or many-colored.
In any year, you may face financial trials, family issues, marital woes, job related problems, doubts to your faith, church troubles or health complications. Trials we face are varied, may come from many directions, but our solution is always the same—God’s help.
Through every difficulty, in the midst of each trial, facing any tragedy, God does not change. 1 Corinthians 10:13 reads, “No temptation [or trial] has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted [or tried] beyond what you are able, but with the temptation [or trial] will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
No matter what you face, or what may unexpectedly come at you; no matter what happens in your life—God is faithful! He has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so we may boldly say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5, 6).