The Right Response to Suffering

Scripture:  I Peter 4:12-19 - Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear? 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

We are in some perilous times.  There are many Christians who are being persecuted for their stand in Christ.  In Peter’s first epistle, he was writing to some believers who were being persecuted by Nero.  His letter was a letter of encouragement and reminder of why we will suffer.  The idea is to have the right perspective.

How should we respond to being mocked by friends for our belief system? How should we respond when sometimes even our families don’t understand us?

Remember that it was Peter who at the possibility of suffering for Christ, denied Him in his greatest hour. In spite of that failure, we see Peter not only willing to suffer but is now preparing other believers to suffer as well. Christ told him after he had returned from his denial that he must strengthen the brethren. (Luke 22:32)

First remember that believers should not be surprised by our suffering for Christ.  (I Peter 4:12)

Jesus said if we belonged to the world, it would love us, but since we don’t belong to the world, that is why the world hates us.  (John 15:18-19)   Peter says that we are “strangers and pilgrims in this world”.  (I Peter 1:1)   We are called to be different, and if we are hated it is most likely because we are demonstrating our calling.

Paul encouraged Timothy, (II Tim. 3:12), “Everyone who wants to live godly for Christ shall suffer persecution.  Our lifestyles of holiness picks at and exposes the sinfulness of this world, and thus excites the anger and animosity we see.  Suffering just reminds us that we are strangers in this world.

Secondly, we are called to rejoice in our suffering for Christ.  (I Pet. 4:13)  Our call to rejoice in suffering seems to be a paradox.  How do we rejoice when suffering?  Paul and Silas gives an awesome example in Acts 16:24-25.  They weren’t just placed in prison, but they were placed in the inner prison.  Their feet were fastened in stocks, but they rejoiced.  They sang hymns and prayed.  

That prison they were in was not a sanitized view we see on television.  It probably reeked of urine, excrement as well as rodents.  Yet they rejoiced.  As a result, they experienced a spiritual freedom  first because they sang and prayed. They then experienced a physical freedom because of the right response to their suffering.  Remember as believers we can rejoice because it is a privilege to suffer for Christ.  (v.13)   As believers we can also rejoice because there will be great reward for those who suffer for Christ.  (Matt. 5:11-12)  Lastly, remember that during times of suffering, “The Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you”. (v.14) That just simply means that God’s presence rests on the believers and gives supernatural strength to endure.  

Prayer:  Father thank you for the privilege you have given us to partner with you in this lost and dying world.  Help us to have a God focus in our everyday walk so that when the suffering and persecution comes, we will see it from Your perspective.  We thank You for Your presence in our lives.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

(by Min. Rob Mosley)






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