|Volume 17 Number 4 April 2015||
“Various trials” grieved early Christians (1 Peter 1:6). Because of this, words of encouragement were offered:
(T)hat the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than Gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen, you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:7- 9)
There are times in history when collectively Christians suffered persecution and were tested. At other times the fire may be more of a personal nature. In either case, the faithful servant of God is reminded that devotion to the Savior is never, ever a guarantee of an easy ride. The Gospel of Christ is most decidedly not the health and wealth Gospel of the charlatan preachers often popular on television.
Collectively, the church at Smyrna was warned, “Do not fear any of those things you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). There, apocalyptic language highlights that trials would be coming. The people would not be spared, but the living and powerful word of Christ (Hebrews 4:12) was given to exhort them to faithfulness.
On the other end of the spectrum is the poetic, joyful recollection of some who had been through the refining fire and had come out to a joyous place: “For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. You have caused men to ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water; But You brought us out to rich fulfillment” (Psalm 66:10-12).
Indeed, “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able…” (1 Corinthians 10:13). He “is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24).
Today, Christians somewhere are suffering. Likely, readers of this article are among them. The trial may be very personal—an illness or a tragedy tests one’s stability and stamina of faith. The test may be collective—a community may be threatened with everything from legal action to violence for their stand upon the principles of Christ. It is not easy. It is not to be minimized. While Christians want to avoid temptation and can even pray to not be led into such situations (Matthew 6:13), when found in turmoil, there is hope in the power of God as promised by His powerful Word.
“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver,” said the prophet (Malachi 3:3). There is hope, and that hope is actually produced by the character traits that grow out of tribulation: “…knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).
David A. Sargent
On Sunday morning, April 24, 2005, Troy Driscoll, 15, and his best friend, Josh Long, 17, both high school students from North Charleston, SC., paddled out from Sullivan’s Island near their home for a day of fishing in a 15-ft. boat. They intended to put the boat between the beach and a sand bar, but they weren’t there 20 minutes when a riptide pulled them out, further away from the beach. They tried to put the anchor down, but it wouldn’t take hold. They drifted farther and farther away. Hours went by. They tried to wave people down, but nobody saw them. Josh said that the last thing he saw were the towers on shore that lead cargo ships in. When nightfall came, they couldn’t see anything. The next morning there was no land in sight. “All we could do was pray,” said Josh.
By 10 p.m. on Sunday night, when the boys — who left Josh’s cell phone in his truck at the dock and had no radio or emergency equipment — hadn’t returned, their frantic parents called the Coast Guard. A rescue mission began which turned into a recovery mission 2 ½ days later when the teens weren’t found. Finally, on Saturday, April 30, the seventh day after they set out, two fisherman spotted them and brought them to safety. They were 7 miles off Cape Fear and 111 miles from where they had launched. While they were lost at sea, the teens battled the cold at night, the heat during the day, extreme hunger and severe thirst.
Josh recalled: “Far from shore, the water turns clear, like blue Gatorade. Troy begged me, ‘Please, let me drink just a little.’ I said, ‘If you drink it, you’ll die.’” Josh was right. As Brett Petrillo states: “The negative effects of drinking seawater are well documented. Some of these effects include (1) dehydration and excessive thirst, (2) a spike in blood pressure, (3) physical problems like headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, (4) brain damage and (5) death. Drinking seawater is never a safe option to quench thirst.” “Water, water, everywhere but nary a drop to drink” (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner).
Trying to quench one’s physical thirst with seawater can be compared to trying to quench the deep spiritual thirst in every person with the things of this world. Neither satisfies. Both are deadly. Consider the Samaritan woman in John 4 who had tried to quench the thirst of her soul in many (failed) relationships. Then she met Jesus by Jacob’s well where He offered her “living water.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water [the water in the well] will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).
Because of His great love for us, God gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16). He died for us so that we might drink of the Living Water that provides salvation and eternal life. Jesus will provide “living water” to those who: place their faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10) and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to quench the spiritual thirst and keep one spiritually clean by His cleansing blood, those who continue to follow Him as a way of life (1 John 1:7).
When it comes to quenching the deep spiritual thirst, all that the world has to offer is seawater. It will never satisfy. It will kill you! Only Jesus offers the Living Water that will quench one’s thirst and give eternal life. Won’t you drink of that Living Water today?
Petrillo, Brett. “Thirsty and Stranded at Sea” Daily Bread.
Rozsa, Lori. “Six Days Lost at Sea.” 5/16/2005 <www.people.com>.