Suffering. One of the great questions of life relates to why the world is so filled with difficulty, adversity, and pain. Different kinds and levels of suffering permeate everything, and no matter how we attempt to insulate ourselves turbulence impacts all of us. Economics. Health. Social issues. Oppression of others. Suffering, however, also produces God things in the world. It is also helpful for the spiritual fight.
PETER suffered because he chose to become a companion of Jesus. He experienced humiliation, temptation, fear, anger, regret and sorrow, targeting, abandonment, correction, loss, and imprisonment. You can read about both his shortcomings and restoration in Luke 22:54-62; John 21:15-19. Hopeful!
So, when Peter comments on suffering in 1 Peter 1:5-7 he has special insight into suffering as he talks about those who follow Jesus:
“…(you) are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the testing and proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, though tested by the fires of life, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ…”
We must conclude that suffering is God’s tool to produce things which would not occur apart from our trials.
Some possible responses to suffering:
√ We can become fearful or embittered.
√ We can remember that God understands and watches over us
√ Remember it is an inevitable part of life – not merely a reward for bad behavior.
√ We can fight it with hope, true joy, and trust in our Kind and Faithful Creator.
√ We can hang out with others of authentic faith.
Here are some great insights into suffering in the good fight of faith!
God’s Jesus-response to suffering – 1 Peter 2:19-25
“For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor (renown) with God.
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”
God’s counsel regarding suffering in the fight – 1 Peter 3:15-18
“…but set apart Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit…”
Preparing our hearts and souls for suffering – 1 Peter 4:12-19
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.
For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”
Resolution for suffering through the fight – 1 Peter 5:10
“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect (mend and restore), confirm (direct resolutely), strengthen (vigor and power) and establish (fully activate) you.”
√ Jesus suffered.
√ We will suffer.
√ It is a part of the fight.
√ Through suffering God brings about things which would not happen apart from personal turbulence.
Suffering along with you,
Dave and Burnadette
You are not alone!