I am doing a set of posts reflecting on observations of 1 Peter 5. My last post was on what Peter had to say to Pastor/leaders in the congregation. For this post, I want to see what Peter has to say about the role of suffering in the Christian life.
First we see that Christ suffered (v.1). Basically we know from the gospels that most of Jesus’ ministry involved suffering be it opposition from Jewish leadership, misunderstandings of his family, to working with inept disciples, to the temptations he dealt with from the Devil, to the intense times of fasting and prayer that he endured – let alone his trial and treatment before Herod, Pilate and the Roman guards. Then who can imagine going through the process of death by crucifixion?
Next we see that the brethren suffered (v.9)(all Christians). This is not hard to imagine as living for the Lord in the first century brought on much opposition and persecutions ranging from beatings, expulsions, and death. The list could go on and on and on whether it was being thrown to the animals in the coliseum, burned on the stake, boiled in oil, beheadings, crucifixions, and on and on and on. All for the sake of the gospel and for the sake of the one who saved them from their sins and gave them new life!
Thirdly, Peter tells his readers “after you have suffered…” (v.10) So, in essence you will suffer in one fashion or another. For us modern day Christians in the US how this is applied is quite different than for others around the world who give their very lives. But the point is suffering can and does happen – be it being ostracized from family, friends and or co-workers; enduring the constant joking and put downs of Christians and or Christianity. I think another area of suffering not often mentioned might be the simple fact of living the Christian life. Living as God has called us to live involves self-sacrifice, the constant denial of the self in the service of God and others. This isn’t easy work so I think faithful discipleship to Jesus is its own form of suffering.
So how does one get through suffering? 1 Peter 5:10 tells us:
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, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
We will get through the suffering because the God of all grace will himself:
- and establish
those who suffer! God himself will be with us in and through our suffering. Through the suffering he perfects us and makes us more like Jesus. In the suffering he confirms that we are his and that he will be with us. He strengthens and establishes us through his presence in our hears and through the Holy Spirit.