Why do God’s people suffer? If He is a loving, caring God, why does He let horrible and unjust things happen to His children? Peter gives several reasons to help us accept unfair suffering as part of God’s purpose for some believers.
If a believer lives in a hostile environment and is unable to avoid persecution for following Christ, then he must understand God’s plan.
Peter began his discussion by instructing believers to “not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Pet 4:12). He now gives several reasons why this attitude is helpful.
Whatever the degree of suffering, it is a privilege to “partake of Christ’s sufferings” (1 Pet 4:12a) because we experience a sense of camaraderie with Christ. The Savior will never forget your willingness to stand up for Him amid threats and pain, so rest assured that you will “be glad with exceeding joy” (4:12b).
His promise, “Lo, I am with you always” (Matt 28:20), means that He will be with you through every “reproach” (i.e., when you are “defame[d], [or] accuse[d] with abusive words”). We are “blessed…for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon [us]” (1 Pet 4:14); He is with us.
If you suffer because you have boldly identified with Christ, you can glorify Him (1 Pet 4:14b), but this is only possible when you are “not ashamed” (4:16). It seems the more unjust the suffering, the more Christ is glorified.
Now “the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God” (1 Pet 4:17). Suffering for Christ purifies and proves our faith (1:6–7). It is a test, a “judgment” to determine who is genuine. When I met a Christian Chinese receitly released from prison I asked him if he ever prayed for the cessation of persecution in China. The Chinese believer told me, “Oh no, never! Persecution is how we know who is a true believer.”
Remember, “endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons” (Heb 12:7). Suffering for Christ is an expected and vital part of the Christian life. Whatever He allows is designed with a purpose. Never doubt it. Keep doing right.
“What an honor to be able to trust a Savior who has been through the worst of sufferings and stayed faithful to the end. Thank You, Lord, for the privilege of showing You how I can be trusted in threatening situations to stay faithful to You.”
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