I wasn’t looking for a study on trials. Really, I wasn’t. As I scanned titles online, one seemed to scream my name so loudly I couldn’t help but look at it more closely. I think an actual sigh escaped from me as I read the title again, “Putting on a Gentle and Quiet Spirit.” Not a sigh of boredom or of shock, but rather relief.
2014 had been a hard year. We had made a significant life change. Moving from Asia, which had been our home for nearly 21 years, back to the states was part of our struggle. Trials were continually bombarding us and every book or lesson I was drawn to seemed to speak on some facet of joy or endurance of trials. I was ready for quietness spoken deep into my heart. I was tired and I wanted rest. This book looked perfect. I would study I Peter and would come away refreshed, rested with gentleness and quietness reigning in my life. Ahh…I liked the sound of it.
January first, I was eager to start. I sat in my regular morning spot, Bible in my lap, and opened the book. Peter and I were going to be great friends. He had written this letter to believers nearly 2,000 years ago and I was eager to soak up the truths given him by God.
The first five verses were encouraging reminding my of God’s great mercy and the living hope I have in Jesus Christ. There was a blessing thrown in there for grace and peace to be ours. Yes, this was just what I needed.
But, then I read more. “…for a little while distressed by various trials…even though tested by fire…” I felt a shiver travel up my spine. Rebellion was growing in my heart. I didn’t want to hear any more about this subject. I wanted peace! I felt defeated rather than encouraged.
As I sat there that morning, I prayed. And I listened. This was the study the Holy Spirit led me to, no doubt. There were truths He wanted me to search out. There were words of peace and grace and even quiet that He was waiting to speak into my life. I needed to step out in faith and let Him work in my and through me.
So, I moved forward with the study. I continued reading and came across this by the author of the study.
Grace is active and means “favor.” You have God’s favor. You have whatever it is going to take for you to endure, cope, have the victory, and be triumphant in it. Peace, on the other hand, is passive and refers to rest. You have God’s peace, God’s rest in your suffering. When we appropriate God’s great enablers — His grace and His peace — we can achieve a gentle and quiet spirit.
I know this life will always be riddled with trials. Some so great we feel we are only able to experience peace in small gasps. There is no way of knowing peace, grace, nor quiet without understanding loss, suffering, and clamor. I had forgotten, more likely chosen not rely on, God’s sustaining power. His work in me through these trials. I had chosen to look at my circumstances as huge and saw God far off in the distance when in truth, He was right beside me, encouraging and enabling me to move forward.
Elizabeth George ends the second chapter with this quote.
“God has settled in heaven certain trials of our faith, which will as surely befall us as the crown of glory be given us at Christ’s appearing. God’s purposes of grace are a golden chain: not a link must be missing. When the devil tries our faith it is that he may crush it or diminish it; but when God tries our faith it is to establish and increase it. Persecution will be to us as the deluge to the ark—a flood to lift us toward heaven.”
Our faith is fed and strengthened as we go through and overcome trials. As Peter says, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” I Pet. 1:6-7
Today I’m choosing to take courage in the trials that are sure to come. I’m choosing to claim God’s grace and His peace so that I can overcome.