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Monday, January 20, 2020

The Startling Truth about Troubles

Peter's first epistle was largely written on the topic of suffering. It's interesting because the actual major persecution of Christians didn't occur until later -- maybe a decade or more. Peter wasn't writing it because people were burning under Nero. Thus, the suffering isn't merely persecution; it's all of it. But what Peter says is a bit surprising.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith — more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire — may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7)
Peter says some wonderful things here about suffering. 1) He agrees that suffering is grievous. When you are told, "Buck up," like that makes it okay, don't listen. Scripture recognizes that suffering is not pleasant. 2) Peter assures us that it's "for a little while," which certainly is good to know. Suffering often seems interminable. It's not. Now, "for a little while" is relative and, in view of eternity, could easily encompass "for the rest of your life," but it is still a little while, not forever. 3) Suffering has a purpose for believers. It tests faith, because faith untested is faith unsure. Suffering verifies the genuineness of faith, more precious than gold. Suffering has a good purpose.

There is a phrase there that I skipped. Did you notice? Peter writes about trials "if necessary." Now that's a bit strange, isn't it? Necessary? Peter explained here that they're necessary for testing your faith. Peter says they result in praise and glory and honor. That, I guess, makes it necessary. But do you understand the connotation here? God considers suffering necessary. That's a bit startling, isn't it?

Peter says, Not to be surprised at fiery trials, "But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed" (1 Peter 4:13). Rejoice? That's odd. He goes on to confirm what he implied in that text from the 1st chapter. "Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good" (1 Peter 4:19). There he offers no ambiguity. We suffer "according to God's will." Put it another way: God wills that we suffer. It is necessary.

The Bible isn't ambiguous about this. We suffer by God's will. We endure by God's power. We rejoice in His presence during hard times. When Jesus was on Earth, Peter tried out two options on what to do in troubled waters (Matt 14:28-32). His first strategy was to look at Christ, and he walked on water. His second was to look at the storm and he sank. Our best strategy in troubled times is to keep our eyes on Christ, not the problems. But we can be confident that these things don't happen apart from God, that they are for our benefit, that they are necessary, and that they produce good for us. A little odd from the normal human thinking, but it doesn't seem like normal human thinking has a better strategy than "trust God."

1 comment:

Bob said...

John 14 King James Version (KJV)
14 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

I find this verse to Most Profound. Jesus is telling us "He is God" ..
so don't be troubled. Jesus is saying " I Got this"....
And that's all i know...
Normally i would say more but my head is exploding from big thoughts..