Suffering with Him
Lord, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn Your decrees” (Psa. 119:71). Teach me more of them now.
Read 1 PETER 4:12-19
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
Suffering’s face is so ugly, but Peter wants us to learn that there is gold in the bottom of the mine when we suffer with Christ.
Each time we allow Jesus to master our self-absorption, every time we embrace the footprints he lays before us, we will experience the hostility of the world, the flesh, and the devil. We will share in Christ’s sufferings (2 Tim. 1:9). Peter reminds us that this should not surprise us any more than the verdict of the Sanhedrin and the words of Pilate surprised Jesus.
The real surprise is that we have every reason to rejoice even when we come face to face with suffering. Notice two things: First, in the furnace of affliction we discover the spirit of glory resting upon us (14). As strangely as the three young boys in Daniel discovered the humanly impossible presence of One like a “son of man” in the flames, Peter says: “Let the suffering rage. But let Jesus take the windward side as you lean on him from the leeward side, and you will see the glory of God.” The kavod, doxa: God’s dense weightiness lasts long after all the chaff and debris is blown away. When we suffer with him, there comes the incomprehensible, majestic radiance of his glory.
Second, it’s precisely here that we glorify God (16). Why? Isn’t it in times of suffering we suddenly realize that Christ is encircling our sorrows with his own? He not only adopts our disasters, he steals into the upper room and offers his healed wounds to Thomas. We are closest to Jesus when we are most wounded, but we still take all our pain and heartbreak to him! Not only that, suffering for Christ helps us realize that we have been in a workshop, where shavings litter the floor from the carpenter’s pruning knife (John 15). In the meantime, we keep on entrusting ourselves to a faithful creator, doing good even when his way remains hidden.
Have suffering and disappointment offered you opportunities to trust God and his ways? If so, give thanks.
Lord, I want to handle suffering better. I want to feel You weeping with me in my pain so that someday I might smile with You.
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