“Why?” It is a question we ask not when things are going well but when things are not working in our favor. We ask the question when we feel we are dealing with something we do not deserve. One example of this is the trials of life. When people face hardships, the immediate response is not usually positive. What about when somebody faces suffering for unjust reasons, specifically because they are a Christian? They may find themselves questioning why they are receiving this distress. They may be surprised by it. However, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are not. The Apostle Peter echoes the words of his Master when he says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (4:12). In other words, Christians should expect suffering and they should expect suffering as a Christian (4:16). Not only should Christians expect suffering, they should rejoice in the midst of their suffering. Such rejoicing does not mean we rejoice for suffering’s sake. Rather, we rejoice because this type of suffering will give us the opportunity to share in Christ’s sufferings (4:13). We will grow in our Christlikeness, will draw closer in our fellowship with Christ, and God will be glorified. As ones who rejoice in suffering for the cause of Christ, we are blessed when we are insulted for the name of Christ (4:14). We preach the message of God’s grace and the hope of the gospel but not everybody wants to hear that. So, they will insult and ridicule. The response of the Christian is not to speak words of condemnation back nor to seek revenge. The response of the Christian is to glorify God and to entrust themselves to Him (4:16, 19). God is the One who is sovereign and He will work all things out for His purposes (4:17-18). With that knowledge of God, the Christian can trust in the Lord. They can suffer as “those who suffer according to God’s will”. How do they suffer according to God’s will? By entrusting their souls to a faithful Creator and God while they themselves go about doing good. They entrust themselves to God because they realize God has entrusted them with their very lives. Christians understand they are stewards of what God has entrusted to them. That is why they entrust themselves to God in suffering. That is why they do good in the midst of suffering. Instead of staying in the posture of asking questions, may we pay attention to Peter’s words and remember that Jesus Christ died for our sins so that we may have life in Christ. When we repent of our sins and believe in Jesus, we realize we are not our own. We realize God owns us, grows us, and shows us how to be Christlike. This happens supremely through suffering (2:18-25). So rejoice in the fact suffering allows you to share in Christ’s suffering, understanding you will be blessed if you are insulted for the name of Christ, all as you entrust your life to God in the midst of suffering.
- How does understanding the purpose of our suffering (to glorify God and share in Christ’s sufferings) help us rejoice in such difficult circumstances?
- How do you typically respond when you are insulted for your Christian faith? How does Scripture say we should respond?
- How can you be entrusting yourself to God with hardships you are facing right now?