1 Peter 4:12-16 ESV
“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. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”
Are you going through any fiery trials right now? Are you being persecuted for the sake of righteousness and for your testimony for Jesus and for his gospel, and because you hold fast to the truth of the gospel? Are you being rejected and cast aside by those you love, and by those who are supposed to love you? Do other professers of faith in Jesus reject you because of your walk of faith, because you take God and his word seriously?
If this is where you are presently, please know that you are not alone. And please know that Jesus was treated the same way. And he told us that if we follow him with our lives that we will be treated the same way he was treated. We will be hated, rejected, forsaken, cast aside, attacked, falsely accused, have people try to trip us up with our words, be mistreated, sinned against, lied to, lied about, and killed for our faith in Jesus Christ.
But does all of this serve a good purpose? Yes! For one, it is to test us to see if our faith is genuine. For trials have a way of bringing out the worst in people, or the best, depending upon how they respond to the trials. And the testing is God pruning us, too, to make us more like him, to mature us in our walks of faith, to humble us and to remove some of those rough edges, some of those places in our hearts that need a little pruning.
Our sufferings also produce in us endurance, character, and hope, providing that we respond to our sufferings in the way that we ought. And we are to count it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds, for we know that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness, if we pass the test. And we are to let that steadfastness have its full effect so that we may be mature in our walks of faith, lacking in no good thing.
Also, when we go through times of suffering, and the Lord Jesus comforts (encourages, exhorts, urges) us in our affliction, we are then able to offer the same comfort (including holy urgings) to others as they go through similar sufferings. Also, when we suffer for the sake of righteousness, we learn to rely on God and not on ourselves, especially since sometimes it is because we have no one else supporting and encouraging us but God.
As well, our Lord allows us to suffer as a form of discipline (training and/or correction) in our lives, which comes from a heart of love toward us from God our Father, and which is for our good, that we may share his holiness, and that we might be trained by it, for afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness in our lives. This is the Lord pruning us, and maturing us, and conforming us to his likeness.
Therefore, if we are insulted for the name of Jesus Christ, we are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon us. And so we are to rejoice that we are able to share in Christ’s sufferings. For suffering is for our good to make us more like Jesus, and the more we become like him, the more that we can be used in the lives of others to share with them the truth of the gospel and to encourage those who are also suffering for his name.
For, honestly, we are flesh, are we not? And flesh is selfish by nature. And flesh may lead us to do things we ought not to do, or to be selfish, or to think only of our own needs and not of the needs of others. So, when we suffer, it prunes away that flesh, again, if we respond to suffering in the right way. And God humbles us, and he makes us more like him so that we can be used of him to minister to the needs of others.
So, we should not be ashamed or embarrassed by our suffering, and we should certainly not be concerned about what other people think about us, for we have absolutely no control over what others think about us or say about us, and we have minimal control over what they might do to us. So, when we suffer, we are just to commit our lives into God’s capable hands, rest in him, and then keep following him wherever he leads us.
[Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; Matt 5:10-12; Lu 21:12-19; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12; Jn 15:1-11]
An Original Work / June 19, 2013
Based off Acts 20-22, 26; Mt. 28:18-20; Ac. 1:8
Why are you weeping and breaking my heart?
I’m fully ready to suffer for Christ.
If I must die for the sake of His name,
I am convinced it will not be in vain.
Glory to God and to His Son Jesus,
Who has redeemed us; bought with His blood.
May I speak to you? Jesus came to me;
Asked of me, “Why do you persecute me?”
He said, “Now get up and stand on your feet.
Go, and you’ll be told all I have for you.
I have appointed you as a servant,
And as a witness; you have been sent.”
“Go into the world and preach the gospel.
Open the blind eyes. They will receive sight.
Turn them from darkness to the light of Christ;
From power of the evil one to God,
So they may receive forgiveness of sins,
And a place among those who’re in heav’n.”