But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. – 1 Peter 3:14-17
I have been struggling a lot lately with all the “suffering” in my life; how nothing has ever been easy for me. I don’t know where I learned that things should be easy, but it’s a lie I have believed for a long time. And last night, I was really struggling with some things, but a friend of mine shared with me that possibly focusing on how things “should be” is a distraction of “what is” and possibly “to come”. When she said that, I became excited on that possibility and it gave me a fresh sense of seeking what the Lord has for me this week while Jake and I are in Florida.
During my Jesus time this morning, in 2 completely different resources, the topic of suffering came up and it gave me such reassurance that there is a blessing in all I have experienced, will experience, and should not be disheartened through it all.
I know this is isn’t the normal “Christmas” kind of post, but I pray it encourages you like it has me…
The following are excerpts from the study I am doing Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Today was Lie #37 – “I shouldn’t have to suffer”:
Many modern-day evangelistic efforts have promised sinners unending peace, joy, a home in heaven, and a prosperous life between here and there, if they will simply come to Jesus. That kind of preaching stripped of the call to discipleship and cross bearing, has produced a generation of soft, flabby “disciples” who have no stomach for the battles of the Christian life. When their hopes are dashed by the inevitable trials and tribulations, they whimper and whine and make a dash for the quickest escape route.
The message that was preached by the Lord Jesus Himself and by the apostles who followed Him was a call to take up the cross; it was a call to sign up for battle; it was a call to suffer.
The apostle Paul taught that suffering is an essential course in God’s curriculum for all believers: “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22 KJV).
The Truth is, God is far more interested in our holiness than in our immediate, temporal happiness – He knows that apart from being holy, we can never be truly happy.
The Truth is, it is impossible to be holy apart from suffering. Even Jesus Himself, during His years here on earth, was in some unexplainable way made “perfect through suffering” (Hebrews 2:10); and “although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). We say we want to be like Jesus, and then we resist the very instrument God chooses to fulfill that desire.
…Peter goes so far to insist that suffering is our calling – not just for some select group of Christian leaders or martyrs but for every child of God: “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).
True joy is not the absence of pain but the sanctifying, sustaining presence of the Lord Jesus in the midst of the pain. Through the whole process, whether it be a matter of days, weeks, months, or years, we have His promise:
The God of all grace, who called you to his
eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered
a little while, will himself restore you
and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
1 Peter 5:10
The second resource God used to deliver this message was in Dr. Charles Stanley, In Touch daily email, which was entitled, Learning Obedience through Suffering. Below is the last line that really hit home for me and it could have been a better closer for this post as well. Merry Christmas!
The only reason you and I have salvation is because Jesus always did what pleased His Father—had He rebelled in that one area, all hope for lost humanity would be cancelled. If His obedience in suffering resulted in such a great benefit, just imagine what is in store for us when we do what God wants.