“And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace . . . will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).
Successful endurance of present trials leads to greater focus on glorifying God in the future.
Sufferings and trials teach us patience. However, in Heaven we won’t need to have patience, and therefore it is not the major long-term lesson God wants us to learn from trials. He is far more pleased if we grasp the truth that what we suffer now is directly related to our ability to glorify Him in eternity. Worshiping God will be our role in Heaven (Rev. 4—5), and Paul reminds us that “if we endure, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Tim. 2:12). In other words, if we learn to endure trials and tribulations now, we can expect to receive great reward in eternity. I believe that reward is primarily the capacity to glorify God; and therefore the greater our present endurance, the greater will be our capability to glorify Him in the future.
At one point during Jesus’ ministry with the disciples, two of them—brothers James and John—desired that He appoint them to the two positions of greatest prestige in His kingdom—seats at His right and left hands (see Matt. 20:20-23). James and John recognized the concept of eternal rewards, but they did not understand how it works. Thus Jesus asked them if they were ready to endure the cup of suffering and death (as He was) prior to occupying such powerful positions in His kingdom (v. 22). This implies again that endurance in trials and advancement in future glory are correlated. (Jesus endured the greatest suffering on the cross, and He was raised to the highest position, at the Father’s right hand.)
The application for us from all this is clear: the Lord wants us to realize that the end of every trial contains much satisfaction and joy because we are building up our future capacity to glorify Him. At the same time, we are comprehending more and more about the value of persevering through all sorts of pain and tribulation (see Rev. 2:10).
Suggestions for Prayer
Ask God to give you the desire to see the benefits of trials from an eternal perspective.
For Further Study
Read Revelation 4—5. What attributes of God do you see, directly or indirectly, that are worthy of eternal praise?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.