In Part 3, Peter taught us to live in the spirit the way God does, so that we understand and accept the will of God. He finishes this discussion of suffering with an approach to life during suffering:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Pet 4:12-13).
The Commentary Critical offers a great analogy for those of us who are wondering “Why me?” and “How do I rejoice during this?” As bad as the fiery trial sounds (and feels!), it can be compared to the fire precious metals encounter which melts away the dross, the impurities, leaving an enhanced precious metal – you!
“If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Pet 4:14).
I might add that, if you have never been insulted for the name of Christ, perhaps you should consider what you are missing. Having the Spirit of glory and of God resting upon you is one of the most, if not the most, beautiful feelings a human can experience in this life, especially in the midst of testing by evil forces.
“But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or and evildoer or as a meddler” (1 Pet 4:15).
It would appear that how we suffer is based on personal choices we have made. I claim that Spirit of glory and of God right now in my current suffering alongside my beloved Sue!
“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name” (1 Pet 4:16).
Glorifying God through the name of Jesus Christ is extremely important, because some can try to avoid judgment through God outside of Christ, his son. Peter is telling us that this would be a big mistake:
“For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And ‘If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’ Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful creator while doing good” (1 Pet 4:17-19; 1 Cor 3:15).
Peter appears to believe that the final judgment is about to begin, just as some of us wonder today if it is approaching quickly. Keep in mind that, while time goes by slowly for us, the time between 60 A.D. and 2021 is but the blink of an eye to God.
So how do we thrive when we are suffering?
- Rejoice in sharing Christ’s suffering;
- Accept insults in the name of Christ;
- Confess past sins so as not to be like a murderer, thief, evildoer, or meddler;
- Do not be ashamed to suffer as a Christian, but rather glorify the name of Christ.
We thrive by buffering our suffering. Then, we sit back and watch God’s hand working all around us!