“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials…..But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you.” — I Peter 1:6; 5:10
What better verses to attract our attention than these from Peter as we enter into the season of Thanksgiving. This season you may be in better sorts than last season. Or possibly this season you are in more dire sorts than last season. If you are in better sorts then you understand what Peter meant when he stated “now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.” Now that the trial is over you are rejoicing. You feel a little more settled, your strength has been renewed, God’s grace has again proved sufficient. But if in this season, this particular time right now, you have some great affliction that is weighing you down, you are on the other side of the fence. You are grieved, and now, for awhile, just for a little while, you are burdened down with more than you think you can bear. On both sides of the fence, we are to rejoice. On both sides of the fence lies God’s grace. On both sides of the fence can be found the refreshing waters of God’s Word.
When Paul said, “In everything give thanks (I Thess.. 5:18),” and David shouted, “I will bless the Lord at all times (Psa. 34:1),” both were experiencing seasons of alienation. Paul, many scholars agree, was writing from Corinth during his second missionary journey where he faced hostile opposition to his message. God in essence said to Paul, “Just for a little while, stay here in Corinth and preach the gospel, I will be with you and no one will harm you….just for a little while (18 months – Acts 18:9-11). David on the other hand, is writing a psalm of praise after feigning madness before the King of Gath in order to be released from captivity by the Philistines who were still enraged over David’s conquering of Goliath. As one commentator said, “The slaying of Goliath not only spelled triumph for David, it spelled trouble as well.” Just for a little while God allowed David to go through immense agony of soul. Just for a little while, and once again He would be restored to great service for God.
To praise God for blessings and to thank God for trials are two different paths of the believer’s journey to the City but on both paths we are to rejoice. The crosses are within the permissive will of God as well as the crowns! Both are conforming us into the image of His son. Even our Lord’s suffering on Calvary was just for a little while. Death was just for a little while. The grave was just for a little while. Then came the resurrection! Then came glory! When the suffering becomes almost too much to bear and we ask “how long, Lord?” God says, “Just for a little while.”
“For we know that all things work together (after a little while) for good (after a little while) to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son….”
David also said in Psalm 34:19 that “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord (after a little while) delivers him out of them all.” The Apostle Paul said in II Corinthians 4:17 that, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment (just for a little while), is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Affliction in the life of a believer is factual and unavoidable BUT only for a little while and must always be viewed in light of eternity (Romans 8:18). A Chinese parable tells the story of a woman who lost an only son. Grief-stricken she finally went to a wise old philosopher. He said to her, “I will give you back your son if you will bring me some mustard seed. However, the seed must come from a home where there has never been any sorrow.” Eagerly she started her search going from house to house in the village. At every door she learned that a loved one had been lost and sorrow had touched the home. Returning to the old philosopher she said, “How selfish I have been in my grief, sorrow is common to all.”
As we approach another season of Thanksgiving, can we give thanks in all things? Can we bless God at all times? Regardless of our circumstances we are living right where God desires us to be. He is sovereign in all things and His providential hand is acting according to His wise counsel, preserving and governing all things, and directing them to our best end and His glory. When we accept this fact it will do several things for us:
- It will give us the peace that passes all understanding.
- It will keep us from asking the wrong questions.
- It will allow us to trust during the fiercest storms.
- It will bring acceptance, not bitterness, when afflictions come.
- It will give us a little of heaven’s joy on earth.
During the “little whiles” of tempestuous times there will always be “great grace” to carry us through!
–Maynard H. Belt