12 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. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 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? 18 And“If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. - 1 Peter 4:12-19
Anytime that I am able to give advice to someone or share my experiences, I am usually able to impart something of value for one main reason: I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Suffering allows that same return; it aides our growth and brings blessing if we can just understand its meaning.
Peter starts this group of Scriptures off very clearly. There is not a lot of deep interpretation that needs to be extracted. We should not be surprised if suffering comes in any form. Yes, God is a good God, but no where in the Bible does He exclude His sons and daughters from experiencing pain. As Pastor Boyd mentioned, even Jesus suffered the worst among us. One way God uses suffering is through fiery trials. This is a refining process that needs to take place in order to purify us (1 Pet 1:7). It helps to bring us to a more genuine faith. Verse 12 ends with reminding us not to think our suffering is strange. Basically, it will probably happen more than once. - enough for you to remember God's faithfulness from the last time.
Another source of suffering can be from our personal faith in Jesus. Though physical suffering takes place for Christians in many parts of the world, Americans will mostly deal with this in a social sense. Christians are being marginalized more and more in our culture and may suffer emotionally and psychologically for their faith. This is just as significant as physical harm, because it can suppress our witness. Rejoice in this suffering because it brings glory to Christ. Do not only endure suffering, but rejoice in it.
Another clear indication of this Scripture is to understand God's will is not for us to live in an eternal state of suffering. Like seasons, it should come and go, serving its purpose. Don't bring any more suffering than what God intends and allows. Your foolish mistakes and behavior can be a source of unnecessary pain (vs 15). Your selfish actions can lead to sorrow as a consequence of your choices.
With Christ, suffering is not wasted. It refines us and molds us into His image. It reminds us that we need Him, and nothing we accomplish is because of how good we are. It is about how good He is to us. When we entrust our life to the One who is faithful, our suffering has meaning and purpose, it's a testimony to others. We endure suffering because Christ showed us the way. As Pastor Boyd revealed, we hold our suffering up with support from our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are able to come through the suffering and stand on it by His work in us. This brings us to rejoice in it and through it!
We would love to hear your story. How has God sanctified you and strengthened your faith through suffering? How are you now standing upon what once was crushing you?