If there’s one thing that most people don’t think about when it comes to knowing the will of God in their lives, it’s that sometimes it’s God’s will that we go through suffering.
The more I read the New Testament, the more I feel that conclusion is unavoidable. But the other thing that I get is that through those sufferings, God is glorified and so are we.
And so Peter tells us,
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. (12)
Translation: it’s something that is actually normal in the Christian life. It’s normal when people reject you for Christ’s sake.
Because Christ was rejected too.
But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (13)
In short, rejoice when you suffer unjustly, for Christ suffered unjustly too. But the day will come when he will return and his glory will be revealed. And on that day, all your struggles and suffering will be forgotten.
But even before then, Peter tells us,
If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (14)
I can’t help but think of Stephen, facing his accusers just before he was stoned, his face glowing like an angel. (Acts 6:15).
Or of the apostles coming back from their beating at the hands of the Sanhedrin, praying, and then being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and with boldness. (Acts 4:31)
When we suffer for Christ’s sake, the presence of the Father and the Holy Spirit rest upon us. And Peter says we are blessed because of it.
So Peter tells us,
If you suffer for as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. (16)
He then says something a bit enigmatic.
For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God. And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (17-18)
What does he mean by this? I think it means that as Christians, God puts all of us through times of testing. But as we’ve seen in James, this testing is not for the purpose of destroying us, but of refining us like gold, making us more like Christ. Nevertheless, the process is not pleasant. In fact, it can be quite painful.
But how much better is that than to stand in judgment before God when all your life you have rejected him?
And so though we may suffer for the will of God, know that it always is for our good. More than that, it will be to God’s glory, for when we come out of the fire, we will come forth as gold.
So Peter concludes,
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (19)
Are you going through a time of peace right now? Rejoice. Be thankful. But don’t be surprised if it doesn’t last, for we live in a broken world.
Are you going through suffering? Rejoice. Know that it is only temporary and it will not ultimately be for your destruction, but for your good.
But whatever the case may be, whether you are in times of peace or suffering, commit yourselves to your Creator, and continue to do good. And God will be glorified through you.