Ex fisherman, eager but flawed follower of Jesus, then elder statesman of the church, late in life, takes some time out to encourage fellow believers who are facing difficulty & suffering.
Tucked away in his letter known as First Peter we find some very surprising advice on a christian response to suffering. Ch 4:12-19.
It ends with these shocking words:
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. v 19
It would seem that at least some suffering we go through can actually be God's will for us! And in the middle of that suffering Peter's advice is to trust the one who's will is it for us to suffer. And in the middle of that suffering, not to be crushed by it but to keep doing good. None of that seems natural.
Here are some thoughts on this small challenging passage of scripture
- Often suffering can be a test v12. Often we can ask where is God in our suffering but maybe the better question is where are we? Where is our faith?
- We are not only to endure suffering but to rejoice in suffering v13.
- When we suffer for Christ the God has never been closer to you than in that moment v14
- Not all suffering is God's will, often we bring it on ourselves because of a direct result of our sin. v15
- The antidote to this type of suffering is not endurance or rejoicing but repentance. v17
- Suffering as a direct result of being a Christian is not marked by shame but by glory. v16
- Faith is needed in the middle of suffering, not particularly faith to get out of it but faith to trust your creator God to bring glory to his name by transforming us through it. v19