In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
— 1 Peter 1:6–7
Over the course of my life, I have found myself in situations where I didn’t really know what to say. If you have never held the hand of a person grieving the death of a child, had your arm around the shoulders of a person who got difficult news from the doctor or sat across the table from a person who just lost the career they had spent their life building, then it will be difficult for you to relate. If you have been in those situations, then you know exactly what I am talking about. In that moment, the person who is struggling often can’t find their words, but the look in their eyes tells you that they hope there is something you can say or do that will help lift the burden, even if it is just temporary.
In most of those moments all I know to do is turn to Scripture. I do my very best to take Jesus to their wound, because I sincerely believe that he is their only hope, not only in the moment, but for all of eternity. Another thing I have learned, and was reminded of Sunday’s message, is the power of personal testimony. If I am able to connect a grieving person with a Christian who has walked through the same type of loss, there is an immediate bond, many times before either person ever speaks a word.
In 1 Peter, Christians are encouraged to see that the trials they face can actually be used for good. In our flesh, we have a tendency to sit and stew in our grief, fear and trials. We easily move to a place of isolation. In the flesh we waste the pain. Christians are not exempt from grief, fear or trials. We have an opportunity, however, to respond to these things in a different way. We can actually leverage the pain we have experienced and use it to speak life and hope into others. God doesn’t want us to waste the pain, but to use it for the good of others.
I believe this is true, not only because it is written in the Scripture, but because I have seen it play out in my life. This is why there is so much power in support groups. When we begin to hear the stories of pain turned to victory from others, it breathes hope into our own brokenness. When you look into the eyes of a person who has overcome an addiction and hear them say, “You too can overcome this with God’s help,” it inspires you. When you look into the eyes of a mother who has lost a child and hear her say, “Joy can be found even in this darkness,” you are more likely to believe her than someone who doesn’t understand the depth of your pain. If you have a person who lost everything they had worked their entire life to accumulate say, “I learned that my hope wasn’t in my possessions but in God it changed everything,” you immediately know that they can be trusted as an authority on the subject.
Let me ask you the questions for the day: what part of your story have you kept covered up? And what if God wanted to use the things you learned through your pain to encourage someone else? Who knows? God might just use your story to help someone view their situation differently and bring them to a place of deeper trust in Jesus.