THE Apostle Peter wrote, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you." I don't like trials at all, except court shows on TV, or the big screen. How can you beat "A Few Good Men"? Anyway, the trials Peter referred to come in a variety of forms and from a variety of people and places. I can tell you, with all certainty, none of them are much fun. This is probably why Peter said, "Do not be surprised... as though something strange were happening to you." We should never be shocked when life is difficult. Now I'm not trying to be negative or "Murphy's Lawish" on you. It's just a fact that bad stuff happens to good people, even when they don't deserve it.

            WHY do we go though trials when we are God's children and supposed to be under His watchful eye? The reason is because we are God's children and under His watchful eye. It may sound strange but God wants us to go through trials in order to strengthen us. God wants His kids to be strong. Uh, we want our children to be strong, and tough as well.

            IN I Thessalonians 3:1-5, Paul is worried about the church because they were facing some difficult times. So he sent Timothy, "...To strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no-one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless." Paul identified three things he knew we would all face: Trials, Persecution and Temptation. From the Greek, trials and persecutions are very similar. They only differ in that a trial comes from any and all sources, while persecutions come more in the form of attacks by people. Both come from "without" to affect us from "within". Temptations, on the other hand, are a bit different because they often come from within and are meant to burn us up or down from the inside. The first two attack from without to destroy us while the latter comes from within to weaken and defeat us. Both can be devastating.

            WHAT are we to do with these trials, persecutions and temptations except not be surprised that they show up? Paul tells us to not be "unsettled" by them. The word unsettled means to be disturbed, upset or made anxious. It can also mean to cause us to move or change position. Another way to understand this word is to wag, back and forth like a dog's tail. Paul is warning us to remain steady during all these trials and persecutions that each one of us is destined to face.

            GIDEON was facing all three of these things at once (Judges 6-8), and he was hiding in a basement when an angel came and called him a "mighty warrior." That is exactly what you are, a "MIGHTY WARRIOR". You may not feel like it, but with God in your life there is nothing you cannot overcome. Now Gideon was still scared even though the angel encouraged him. So the angel told him this in Judges 6:23, "But the Lord said to him, 'Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die." The word Peace (Shalom) means to be still, quiet, at rest, complete, whole and safe. God promises to give us peace, no matter how hard the trial may be.

            BE at peace, God promises to take care of us through all of our trials and difficulties. Just remember why they come... To make us strong, just like God created us to be.