Part 15 – To suffer
Hardly a positive statement that “we’re saved to suffer,” is it? For Christians, however, suffering has a wonderful purpose and outcome. Just as it did for Jesus.
Jesus, for instance, was “crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death,” Hebrew 2:9. He was also made “perfect through suffering” so he could become “the author of our salvation,” verse 10. So suffering not only had a wonderful purpose for Jesus, it also had a wonderful outcome for us, so that we too can be crowned with the same glory and honour that he has.
Should it come as a surprise, then, that as “co-heirs with Christ,” Romans 8:17, “we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory”? Peter answers in 1 Peter 4:12, “No, don’t be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange is happening to you.” Rather, verse 13, “rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”
Because in suffering two things are happening: first of all, that if we’re suffering as Christians (verse 16) “the Spirit of glory and of God rests on us,” verse 14. And secondly, verse 19, “”those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
So, first of all, if we’re suffering as Christians, the Spirit makes sure it’s all turning into glory for us. And secondly, one of those “glories” the Spirit gives us is the ability to see our faithful Creator working out everything we’re going through to our eternal good, so we can relax and concentrate on doing what good we can now.
And Peter obviously wants us to grasp this, because, verse 17, “it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God,” the big question being, “Do we believe Jesus is real, enough to trust him no matter what’s happening to us?” Can we, like Jesus, “commit our spirit” to God?
Peter accepts it’s a hard thing to do (verse 18), because suffering in whatever form is the worst experience for us humans. But God built some things into suffering that have enormous benefit for us now too…(more on this tomorrow)