Sunday, February 28, 2010

This To Shall Pass

In 1 Peter, the apostle has written an epistle that is as encouraging to us today as it was meant to be for the Gentile believers of his time. Living amidst hostility and facing persecution, the people needed strengthening, and this letter serves to do just that. Trials are inevitable and we ourselves as Christians are not immune, Peter made that abundantly clear when he said “Dear friends do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” [4:12-13]. In light of the inevitable suffering that we face as a result of our humanity and broken sin filled world we find wisdom in the words of Peter’s first letter.

What does Peter suggest we do in the face of inevitable suffering? We do what Christ did we endure and persevere until we are ultimately victorious and we in turn rejoice, knowing we are blessed to suffer for the name of Christ.

Peter exhorts those gentile believers facing persecution to “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." [5:8] Not only can we be assured that others are facing trials and tribulations, but we know all to well, the suffering that Christ endured for us. There is something comforting about knowing that you are not alone in your suffering, and assuring, in realizing that your suffering is not necessarily a result of your wring doing. When I begin to adopt the why me, poor me attitude, the Holy Spirit very quickly reminds me of Christ’s ordeal. It is then, that I realize a few things, first how minor my sufferings are in comparison; second, how much more undeserving and unfair it was for Christ to have to suffer; and third, who am I - to think that I would or should be void of pain and suffering when the perfect lamb of God himself, faced ridicule, contempt, torture, and death. Keeping things in perspective, and my focus on Jesus, affords me the ability to turn my mourning into dancing – and praise the God who has given me victory through Christ.

I am encouraged as I am sure Peter’s readers were with his next passage that reads “And 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” What a great encouragement to know that this too will pass, that suffering is not eternal and that in fact the suffering itself will produce greater strength and faith. No matter what the circumstances we have reason to hope, because as we suffer with Christ so will we be glorified with Him in heaven.

I found that verses 6-7 of chapter 1, reminded me a lot of the situation Shadrach, Meshack and Abendego found themselves in. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by the fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed." 3 men, whose faith was being tested, by the fire literally, and when they persevered Christ was revealed and God was given all the glory, honour and praise as they walked out of the fire, unharmed. As I read this verse I am reminded that we too will walk out of the fiery trials unharmed, if we keep our faith in Christ.

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