A FAITH-BUILDING PROCESS
To many of us, the realization of an eventual heavenly kingdom may be a far-fetched dream beyond our reach and concrete understanding. However, the saints were capable of seeing the heavenly city that God has prepared for them (Heb 11:14–16). The writer of Hebrews concludes that they were able to see afar because of their faith in God. For this reason, they called God their God, with whom they walked in faith.
Their lives on earth were characterized by continual suffering. These tribulations were intended to purify and strengthen their faith in the Lord. Recognizing the fact that they were merely sojourners and pilgrims in this world, they decided to live a life of wandering. Their faith can be likened to a window, which opened up to a view of their eventual home, away from this world of toil and sadness (Heb 11:13). The stronger their faith grew through suffering, the clearer they were able to visualize their heavenly home, and the greater their urgency to gain access to this inheritance.
In 1 Peter 1:4, apostle Peter does not give any clues as to how the suffering saints can escape the brunt of pain in times of persecution. Instead he points them to the reality of an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance, which is reserved for them alone. For this reason, the believers of Peter’s time rejoiced and, as a natural result of faith (2 Thess 1:4), exhibited a continual love for God in their suffering (1 Pet 1:8).
Suffering trains our faith and patience, deepening our yearning for the kingdom of God. This connection between faith and suffering is therefore crucial for our salvation.
However, danger is always real when our faith is superficial. Without genuine faith, God lifts His protection away from us, exposing us to the fearsome devises of the evil one. So, our pursuit in life should be to strive for the genuineness of faith. Instead of being wrapped up in pretences, polishing our faith in trials should be a matter of utmost importance, and each suffering moment should be taken as a chance to better ourselves. When we are purged by suffering (Rev 7:14), our faith is refined and becomes more precious than ever before, qualifying us for the crown of life (Jas 1:12).
[To be continued...]