Trials From Without - Lesson 19 - Triumphing Over Suffering.
1 Peter 4:12 - 19
12 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;
13 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.
14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, thief, evildoer, or troublesome meddler;
16, but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed but is to glorify God in this name.
17 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?
18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?
19 Therefore, those who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
Peter wrote with such optimism that he made trial, affliction, and suffering seem practically desirable. He could do that because he saw beyond the natural into the realm of eternity and its values. He took Jesus’ teaching seriously when He said His disciples would not have things better than their Master — since He endured rejection and suffering, so would they. Therefore, Peter took it all in stride and urged the people not to panic as if a fiery ordeal was unexpected. Rather, they should link their level of suffering to their level of rejoicing when Jesus and His glory are revealed. This always forward-thinking perspective made Peter a powerful influence on the body of Christ.
He further emphasized that suffering should not result from sinful or inappropriate behavior. Still, if the suffering is related to being a Christian, it is not a cause for shame but for glorifying God. I’m pretty sure Peter remembered his struggles with suffering for Jesus. He even denied Jesus three times in one evening! Yet Jesus forgave and restored him, and he went on to preach on the Day of Pentecost when the Church was born, plus other occasions resulting in thousands coming to faith in Christ. He knew the reality of cultural conflict over Christ, failing or Triumphing over Suffering at different times.
You may have experienced some level of trial because of your faith. Maybe you are passing through a fiery ordeal right now. You feel battered and beleaguered, wondering if you will make it. First, remember that Jesus has gone through all that you are, plus much more. He knows your pain and will not leave you or forsake you.
The writer to the Hebrews said:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Call on Jesus to be your strength and hope as you bravely continue taking one step at a time, trusting Him with the outcome.
Peter’s last emphasis in these verses concerns salvation. He speaks in demanding terms that are appropriate for the Gospel. Being a Christian is no casual thing. God holds believers to a high standard — the standard of grace. Grace teaches the requirement of a holy life, and God constantly evaluates His people with this measure. The difficulty of salvation is not for the one being saved but for the One doing the saving. Look at the price Jesus paid for His own; the suffering, the rejection, the physical pain. But oh, the glory that follows!
The people who disobey the Gospel have no such joy or hope. While a believer in Jesus knows forgiveness, a relationship with God, fellowship with God, eternal life, the surety of heaven, and more, the pagan has this life with its trouble followed by eternity away from God in pain and torment forever.
The bottom line is to trust your soul to the faithful Creator and, for glory, do right no matter what. The day you stand before Jesus, you will be so glad as your life brings joyful glory to Him.