Statistically, January is the most disliked month of the year. For most of us January is a dreary month full of cold, holiday let-down. Factoring in that January has the highest death rate, it’s not hard to see why people don’t care for the first month of the year. However, January has a unique ability of bringing out the same desire in each of us – a longing for something greater than the present. January is truly God’s yearly grace for Christians to faithfully serve in the present and to joyfully hope in the future.
In a similar way that most of us don’t view January as a grace, many Christians equally fail to view life difficulties as blessings from above. Focusing solely on present circumstances cloud out the Christian’s anticipation for the future. And yet, Scripture teaches that trials are not only from the Lord, but also are causes for our rejoicing. Peter called for rejoicing when “even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials.” (1 Pet. 1:6) A few verses earlier Peter provided the ultimate reason for rejoicing – “according to his [God] great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” (1 Pet. 1:3-4) Instead of denying the realities of suffering, Peter does the unimaginable – he calls Christians to rejoice in suffering because of a future inheritance in heaven.
As difficult as it might feel in this moment of hardship, God often blesses his people through trials. Trials often are the God-given means of drawing believers closer to God and further away from the world. God’s love is not demonstrated by allowing Christian intimacy with the world. Rather, God’s love is demonstrated in reconciling lost sinners to himself through the saving blood of Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:8). God’s mercy has been demonstrated to us when God uses trials, sufferings, and hardships to instill trust in the Lord’s goodness. Especially in the darkest of seasons, Scripture calls us to view suffering as “light, momentary afflictions [that] produces for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” (2 Cor. 4:17) For those of us in Christ, our hope in seasons of immense pain is looking forward to God’s eternal promises.
This particular truth hits especially close to home for my family. This past January, my wife and I lost our second child in miscarriage. In the midst of our grief and sense of immense loss, the certainty of our eternal inheritance in Christ gave us renewed comfort and purpose. God was gracious to remind us of life’s brevity and the eternal glory of heaven. (James 4:14) Though our plans were not God’s plans, God has reminded us that his goodness eternally surpasses our disappointment.
Perhaps January made you weak or a season of great sorrow has befallen you. Remember that just as January gave way to February, so too has your heavenly Savior prepared a place for you in glory. (John 14:2) Remember in the midst of life’s burdens that God is good and ultimately directing your steps. (Prov. 16:9) Most important of all, remember that when God makes you weak, then you’re made strong in Christ, for “My [Jesus’] grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Cor. 12:9) Christian, live faithfully through today’s hardships with eyes wide open for God’s glorious promises yet to come. Rest in the certain assurance that eternity is the Lord’s and his kingdom will prevail forever. Be still and know that he is God.