Christine Caine - Forged By Fire - Part 1
Hey, everyone, I am so grateful that you have joined us today. I truly believe that God has a word in season for you that's going to transform your life. You know, we're going to discover today, and I think it is so timely that our faith is actually forged by fire. So many of us, all over the world, have been experiencing an unprecedented, relentless season of trials, of challenges, and of tribulations. It just seems like we have no time to catch our breath. We can't even come up for air because there just seems to be another tragedy, another disaster, another natural disaster, another economic challenge, another financial challenge. It just seems wherever we are coming out of a global pandemic, that it's just one challenge, one bit of suffering after another bit of suffering.
And I want you to know that your God has not left you in this season, your God has not forsaken you in this season, your God has not forgotten you in this season, God is forging you and me into his image to be used for his glory. I know sometimes when we are feeling in times of just huge, huge fire and the heat is turned up seven times seven, it can feel like God has left the building. It's like, what is going on with this world? I want you to know this world is not God-forsaken. As I've traveled, I hear so many people say, "You know, this world's God-forsaken," no, it's not. My scripture says that God so loved this world, that he gave his only begotten son Jesus Christ to die on a cross. That's how much he loves this world. God's not forsaken us, God's not left us, he loves us.
Today, we're going to look at 1 Peter 1:1-9. And the scripture says that "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: to those chosen living as exile," that's going to become very important, "Dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the spirit, to be obedient and to be sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you. Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance undefiled, and unfading kept in heaven for you. You are being guarded by God's power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith, more valuable than gold which though perishable is refined by fire, may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him, though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls". This is the word of the Lord. You know, in 1 Peter, the apostle Peter writing to Christians that were suffering for their faith. Maybe that's what you feel like today. I'm speaking to Christians that have been through a time of suffering and I would say that is all of us in this season. You know, back here, Peter was writing to Christians who had been dispersed into five cities in the Roman Empire. They've been persecuted and Peter is warning them that there's still more to come. I mean, how would you like to get a letter that says, "I know you're being persecuted, but there's still more to come".
There is no one that wants to hear that there's still more suffering to come. There is still more trials to come. There is still more pain to come, there is still more tribulation to come. But this letter was written during the reign of empire Nero, and he was a classic narcissist and megalomaniac, let me just tell you that. I mean, he was an obsessive builder. He loved to build things, especially with his name on it. And Rome was so built up, like if you go to Rome today, you know it's very hard to think I'm going to do a big building project there because it is so built up that there was no more room for any new building projects to be undertaken, and so, what had happened was a fire had struck Rome and people really believe that Nero was the one that started it just so that he could make some room for his buildings. It's like, "Okay, there's no room in Rome. Let's burn down some of Rome so that we can do a new building program".
Well, there was such a backlash to the fact that you know, Rome had burnt, and so, in order to kind of exonerate himself and to distance himself from the fact that he probably was the one that caused the fire. He blamed the Jesus followers for starting it. He blamed them, he said it was because of them. Now, as a result of that, Christians went through horrific persecution. I mean, it's almost inconceivable for you, and I in the 21st century to even fathom what these Christians went through. So, Christians were literally, used as human torches, like going into the coliseum. They were used on either side and lit alive to basically provide light, a human torch into illuminate the dark Chambers and to provide light so that they could go into the coliseum. I mean, it was just demonic actually, that's what it was.
So, I don't know what you may have gone through lately and what I've gone through, but let me just say, being lit as a human torch is a whole other level of suffering and torture. So, in this epistle, Peter is reminding them who they are, which is so important, what they have, which is crucial, and where they are ultimately headed and going. So, can I just say that in the midst of a literal fiery trial, this is like, not a metaphorical fiery trial. This is like human torches, real fire, real trial. Peter reminds them of the who, of the what, and the where. And in this series, you're going to hear me reminding you who, what, where, who, what, where. In the midst of the world in which we live with so much chaos, so much suffering, so many trials, so many things that we don't understand, so many things spiraling out of control.
If you remember the WHO and you remember the WHAT, and you remember the WHERE, you will remain steadfast and immovable, you will not drift. You will not go with the flow. You will not crumble under fire, but you will rise up under fire and realize that your faith is being forged by the fire. We were born for this moment. We were born for these days. We are God's salt and light on this earth for this hour. We're not to run from culture, but we are to stand firm and be steadfast in the midst of this, to be salt and light in a lost and a broken world. What Peter is doing is he is speaking hope to help them endure what they are going through.
It is so important. It is so important to have hope in the midst of adversity. It is so important to have a purpose bigger than yourself in the midst of adversity. It's so important to sense that there is a reason, even if I don't understand that I trust the goodness of God. I know that he's working all things together for my good and for his glory. And I trust God to be faithful in the midst of the fire. I trust God to be faithful in the midst of the suffering. And Peter is reminding them that we are born again. We are born again. We have the strength of the Spirit of God that is living in us. Sometimes I think we forget, we don't have to react to the challenges in the world in the same way that the world reacts to them.
Now, we are in the same thing, most of us want to be delivered from trials, but we're going to have to walk through them just like everybody else. We live in a real world and we encounter real trials. So knowing that we are born again actually changes everything. We're born again by the Spirit of God, the same spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, lives on the inside of us. And so, this is when it's really important to remember. I don't need to react like everybody else because I'm born again and I'm filled with the Spirit of God and I'm empowered by the Spirit of God to live in the midst of a broken world. The fact is that I don't have to react. I can be filled with the Spirit of God. I can exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit of God. I can walk in the power of the gifts of the Spirit of God. Therefore, I can navigate the same trials, the same suffering, the same pain in an entirely different way because I'm born again.
And the scripture says, "We have a living hope". Now, through Jesus's resurrection, we have a living hope today. Not just one day when, but today on this earth, we have a living hope in Jesus. Jesus rose again. He is not still in the grave. So, because of that, as we wait for his second coming where all things will be made new, and then alone, will there be no more suffering, no more trials, no more pain, no more heartache. As we await for that blessed day, we still have a living hope today, in the midst of pain, in the midst of trials, in the midst of sufferings. And, of course, we have an eternal inheritance, Peter writes, so what we have is a hope for the future.
How powerful is that? It is so important to know that we can be born again into a living hope with an eternal inheritance. Because when you remember the who, and when you remember the what, then you are able and when you remember where you are ultimately going, you can better cope with not understanding the why. When you remember the who, and the where, and the what, you can better cope with not understanding the why. You know, no one in their right mind loves trials. I don't know about you, but I would prefer to not actually have any. I really, anyone that says to you, "Man, I love trials". I don't know what's wrong with them, but I definitely don't. I much prefer to not have them. But we live in a fallen world and we have to understand that trials are just simply a part of life. Like, trust me, every single person has trials, whether you can see it or not.
And you know, we spend so much time scrolling through our social media feeds and looking at everyone else's filtered social media feeds. It is amazing to me that we think, "Well, man, their life is perfect. They're obviously going through no trials. They're going through no persecution. Nothing bad ever happens to them". And when looking at life through a filtered and edited, and a cropped different images, and we are making false assumptions about people's lives based on that. But can I just tell you, every single person has trials? Now, sometimes, we go through trials because of our own poor choices or like, literally. How many times have I just done dumb things, have I said dumb things that have resulted in a trial? And had I not made that poor choice to say that thing or to do that thing, then I wouldn't be in the midst of what I'm in right now.
And so, yes, there are some trials that are because of what we've done. And now there are other times, we have trials because of other people's actions towards us. I mean, other times people have have hurt us. People have violated us. People have lied about us. People have slandered us. People have gossiped us. People have done things that have resulted in loss and tragedy and grief in our own life. So whether it's because of ourselves and our own choices, or because of what's been done to us. And other times, there are trials, and it's not that anyone specifically did something or it's not anything that I specifically did, it's just that I live in a fallen world. I live in a fallen world. And because the world's fallen, there are environmental disasters, there are economic disasters, there are social disasters, there are political instability. And there is just things that happen because we just live in a fallen world. One day, there will be a New Heaven, and one day there will be a new earth. And at that time, with a New Heaven and a new earth, only then will there be no more pain, no more suffering, no more sickness, no more death, no more loss, no more grief.
Can you imagine a world without pain or suffering, or sickness, or death, or loss, or grief? That is why we're groaning for Jesus to come back. The whole earth groans because we all want a world without pain or suffering, or sickness or death, or loss or grief. But you know what, we're right here in the middle. We're right here in the middle. We're here between the two advents of Christ Jesus rose again, but he hasn't come back yet again, and you and I are the church of Jesus Christ in the midst of the two advents of Christ. And we need to know how to hang on in the middle. How do you hang on when there are still trials, there are still storms, and there is still suffering on the earth. What do you do in the midst of trials and storms, and suffering, and pain when everything in you wants to tap out, when everything in you says, "I can't bear one more thing".
I remember towards the end of 2016, 2017, I had what I call, like, a perfect storm. It was so, so painful. I had celebrated my 50th birthday. I was on a boat and had so much fun with so many friends from around the world. And I went home and there were like 26 missed phone calls from my brother Andrew, back in Australia. And he was telling me that that very same night while I was out celebrating my 50th birthday with Greek dancing and a whole lot of fun, that my mother had passed away that same night. And you know, that was the beginning of over the next several months, my brother's sister, my sister-in-law who was my age, she died. And then my husband's sister, one of his sisters, she died, and then one of his brother-in-laws, he died.
There was a lot of back and forth to Australia, a lot of funerals, and it was just so taxing to just live through one death after the other death. And, of course, with my mum dying, it just kind of triggered some of the old mother wounds that I had and just trying to work through some of those things. At the same time as that was happening, I was having different challenges at work. I mean, you know, we lead an organization with 19 offices in 16 countries and 100s of staff, so there's a lot going on all of the time. And in a personal level, there was a friend that just meant so much to me who betrayed me.
And you know, the Psalm has wrote in the scripture, "It would've been easy if it was my friend that was against me," but if it was my enemy that was against me, but when it was my friend, the person that I would go to the house of the Lord with, it just crushed me, and I remember I felt so crushed, and you know, at that time I'd made a mistake at work and just, it was just so painful with all of the things that had happened. It was just like it was relentless. And I remember going home one night, and Nick was watching this show on the "Navy Seals". That's how my husband relaxes. He was like watching this show on the "Navy Seals".
And you know, there was this scene where the Navy Seals were jumping out of a helicopter into the freezing cold water and they had to do an assignment and it was during hell week. And, of course, the whole goal of hell week is that they break you down, you know, mentally, physically, emotionally, and so that if you break down, you ring the bell, and you tap out. So you're not going to become a navy seal because you need to be strong on the front lines. So if they can break you at camp, during hell week, then you're never going to make it on the front-line anyway. So it's better that it happens there. And the whole goal is that you ring the bell, you go, "I'm out, I'm out, it's too hard, I can't do this".
And I remember as I was watching those Navy Seals jump out of the helicopter into the ocean, I just started crying and this was weird, like Nick's like, "Whoa, what's just happened to my wife"? And I said, "Nick, this is how I feel because I'd always called us the Navy Seals of the Christian church, man". We are on the front line. We're going to go and rescue the victims of human trafficking. We're going to help empower women and reach the vulnerable, and the marginalized, and we're going to proclaim the gospel of Jesus. We're on the front line, we're the Navy Seals. And I said, "I feel like, spiritually speaking, God's like drop me out of a helicopter into the freezing cold pacific ocean, and I've got several miles to swim to shore and then I've got to complete my assignment. And here is the deal, I know that I can do it. I know that I've got the, you know, the spiritual strength, the muscle memory, the capacity to do it. But for the first time in three decades of following Jesus, I don't know if I want to".
You know, there'd been plenty of times where I'd said, "I don't know if I can," but I'd not really said, "I don't know if I want to," because I knew the cost of staying in the game. I knew the cost of being on the front lines. I knew now, I'd walked with Jesus enough to know it costs, and it really hurts when you're betrayed. It really hurts when you know just people, you lose people. It really hurts to keep your heart in it. It really hurts to keep your soul in it. It really hurts to stay on the front lines where you could be misrepresented, where you can be maligned, where you could be slandered, where you could be gossiped about, where you could be falsely accused.
You know what, this is not a time where you want to have any kind of public profile. I'd just rather crawl into a hole, go and live on the Greek island of Santorini. Open a taverna, do one-on-one evangelism. Eat lots of baklava and moussaka, and watch the sunset over the Mediterranean every night. I said, "Maybe I would do that". And I go, "You know, if I go and do that, that's fine, because I've got enough momentum from three decades of following Jesus that, you know, I would just like cruise. It'll be okay, no one will even know that I took my foot off the pedal. No one will even know that I kind of slowed down and just kind of cruised into the sunset, and waited until I died".
And then I remember looking at Nick through tears, and I said, "But Jesus would know. People might not know, but Jesus would know that I gave up. Jesus would know that I didn't run my race and finish my course. Jesus would know that I didn't keep my foot on the pedal until the end. He would know that I did not lay a hold of all of that for which Christ Jesus laid a hold of me. He would know that somewhere I stop pressing. Somewhere, I stop pursuing. Somewhere, I stop laying a hold of it all, he would know". And Jesus is worthy of my all. Jesus is worthy for me to keep pushing through the pain, to keep pushing through, to continue to endure. You see, in that moment I remembered the who, Jesus. I remembered the what, my purpose. And I remembered where I was headed. Knowing the who, the what, and the where is going to keep you steadfast and immovable when you don't understand the why of pain and suffering.