Suffering, Blessing, and Glory
Scripture reading for December 17th: 1st Peter 1-5
The writings of Peter are always encouraging to me. Peter is my kind of disciple. He was so human. He was always optimistic, even to the point of being boastful! He sometimes spoke before he thought. Jesus chose him in spite of all his obvious flaws and he became the leader of the original disciples. Thankfully, perfection isn’t a requirement for discipleship!
Before ascending to heaven, John records Jesus restoring Peter after serving him a breakfast on the shores of Galilee. He asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter responded “yes, Lord” to make up for the three denials! Jesus then told him how he would suffer and die for God’s glory. (John 21:15-19)
Peter mentions suffering numerous times in his letters. Although Peter tell his readers that they are a chosen people and royal priesthood, he warns them that they will be treated unjustly because Christ was also treated unjustly. (1st Peter 2:9) “For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. In this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving an example that you should follow in His steps.” (1st Peter 2:19-21) He tells them not to suffer for doing evil but to expect suffering for doing good!
Christ’s attitude in His own unjust suffering should be ours. ” He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.” “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, he made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” (1st Peter 2:22-23) He was perfectly obedient to the Father and chose to act in love and trust in God’s ability to judge and repay. He did not have to take matters into His own hands, although tempted to!
Suffering for Christ is a part of life as a true Christian in this world. Christ suffered in his body and we will too. (1st Peter 4:1-2) Suffering has a purifying effect when we have the right attitude. We focus on Christ and His love and justice and His purposes become clearer. We cease from sin and live more fully for our Lord. We are always ready to share the reason for our hope with others who note our joy and calm demeanor in the face of suffering. (1st Peter 3:15)
In fact, Peter tells us how to face suffering. ” Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as if something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of Glory and God rests on you.” Rejoice today in your trials and expect blessing and glory!