Suffering for Your Good
19For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. —1 Peter 2:19-23
Every time I read this text, I get trembling hands and weak knees. I don’t like to suffer. I’m not one of those people that looks at suffering and thinks, “Hey, that looks good to me!”
But the truth is, suffering is part of the Christian life. Many in the world today are beaten and killed for trusting in Christ and for doing good works in His name. Christianity isn’t just “Jesus loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life.” Though that is true, it is only half of the story. Following Jesus Christ makes life harder in many ways. No doubt about it. That being said, why would I choose to follow Christ if that means I must suffer for it? There are many reasons, but here are three:
1.) Proof – How I suffer for Christ proves I belong to Him (see Hebrews 12). If the going gets tough and I leave Christ, it proves I was never His. If I abide in His grace during my trial, it shows His strength in my weakness which glorifies Him.
2.) Priorities – As I suffer for following Christ, I realize that this is not all there is to life. Things are peeled away and I begin to long for something that is not of this world (2 Corinthians 4:17). I begin to see that the things that really matter in this world have much more to do with the Lord than myself.
3.) Power – As I suffer for following Christ, those around me will see His power in me. They will not understand how I can endure what I do and will see in me a power they do not have. The Lord uses that very “power in weakness” to draw others to Himself.
Peter isn’t telling us to run out and look for ways to suffer. We live in a fallen world surrounded by suffering. We don’t have to look very hard to find it. Suffering will find its way to our doorstep. Peter tells us not to be surprised when suffering comes to our house and rings the doorbell. Though suffering isn’t fun, the result is good. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17). So, as crazy as it sounds, embrace suffering and watch how the Lord uses it in ways we could never imagine.
· Am I suffering as a consequence of poor choices I have made? How can God use this?
· Am I suffering as a result of poor choices others have made? Can God use this as well? How?
Prayer - Heavenly Father, everything that comes from You is for Your glory and ultimately my good. That includes my suffering. Help me to see suffering as a gift from You to grow me and make me more like Christ. Too often I crave comfort in this world. Too often I crave ease. Too often I crave the path of least resistance. Forgive me for looking to comfort in this world when true and lasting comfort can only be found in You. Help me not to waste my suffering but to use it to glorify You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.