Sanctification of the Church

Gospel Message & Recording

Count it all joy when you go through trials and tribulations.
— Matthew 16:13-23

In the Gospel reading today Jesus asks, “Who do men say that I am?” His disciples surrounding him said, “Some say you are Elijah or a prophet.” Jesus then asks, “Who do you say that I am?” The majority of the disciples gave Jesus a blank stare, probably because, honestly speaking, they just didn’t know or they were a bit apprehensive on giving a wrong response. Whatever the case may be, Peter, says, “You are Christ the Son of the living God.” Because of that bold and probably surprising answer, Jesus bestows up Peter the title of rock or in Aramaic, Kepha. Indeed a title of honor. But right after, when Jesus was speaking of his forthcoming death and burial, Peter step up to Jesus and says that he will prevent him from dying. Immediately Jesus says, “Get behind me Satan.” It is interesting how Peter went from Kepha to Satan. Peter here is obviously attempting to convey to Jesus that he will be his protector. He in some way may have wanted to get another title on top of the one he was given. But alas the second title was Satan.

Peter falls in to a common trap that we Christians often fall into; that is, not willing to accept suffering or trials as a means of God’s purpose in our life. We often see blessing as God’s plan but tend to look down on suffering as punishment. Here, for the plans of God to come in to fruition, Christ had to be handed over to trial and death. If not, God’s plan would not be complete. Indeed, this is what Peter was doing: attempting to stop God or come into opposition with Him.

In our life we have trials, struggles, death, addiction, sickness, illness, etc. But rather than seeing these moments in our life as a punishment, see it as a way to get closer to God. That is why James says in his epistles, “Count it all joy when you go through various trials or tribulations knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience and patience its perfect work that at the end you will lack nothing.” James says we have to count it as joy. I interpret this to mean to see trials etc., with a purpose. Nothing is happening in your life that God doesn’t know about. He is aware of every detail. Therefore, see what you are going through as a means for you to change, restore yourself, a way for you to get back to God and have a personal relationship with Him. In a way, our trials and struggles sanctify us to become more serious about our Christian walk.

Here are a few examples of what God might be doing through your trials or struggles:

  1. God wants us to get rid of a sinful habits

  2. God wants us to establish a deeper relationship with Him

  3. God wants us to detach ourselves from our over emphasis on money and possessions

  4. God wants us to rely less on people and more on Him

  5. God wants us to pray and fast more

  6. God wants us to prepare ourselves for a new level of his glory —e.g., ministry

Whatever the reason may be like Peter we don’t want to accept suffering as a part of the grand plan. But like Christ’s suffering had meaning and purpose so also our suffering has meaning and purpose. There is always a reason. So, don’t be discouraged. There is a reason for your pain. And that reason may not be realized immediately but