1 Peter 4:12-13, “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.”
I haven’t faced suffering like my brothers and sisters over in places where Christians are hated and persecuted. I don’t fear for my life on a daily basis. Through mediating on these two verses, I have considered the question, “Do I avoid suffering?” For the Christians that Peter was writing to this wasn’t a question that they could even consider because suffering was as frequent to them as the sun rising in the morning. There were some who Peter aimed to encourage that suffering was apart of the Christian life. Instead of writing out strategies to avoid suffering, he tells them how to delight in the promise of suffering. The gift of speaking and serving are not the only gifts Christians receive, suffering is a gift, too. It’s a gift like the others, which makes us more like Christ. Suffering prepares us to be glad in the glory that is coming when Christ returns. We must remember that we share not only in Christ’s inheritance but in His sufferings as well.
Peter doesn’t write to the Christians as one who doesn’t know what they are going through. Like the kind and caring shepherd he is he begins by addressing them as those he loves. Pastors and aspiring pastors, we must prepare our congregations in love and share with them that we will suffer. Why ? We serve a suffering Savior who told us, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours” (John 15:20) ). Suffering should be expected. In the midst of suffering, Jesus shows them how to endure and gives a reason for why they should rejoice.
They are told to rejoice for two reasons. Rejoice in the fact you share in the suffering with Christ. Rejoice in the fact that you will rejoice and be glad when Christ’s glory is revealed. These two commands to rejoice are not separate. Those who rejoice in the coming of Christ will rejoice when sufferings flow in. If suffering hasn’t hit home, it eventually will. We must be prepared when suffering comes that we have a good understanding of who God is and why suffering takes place. We can easily turn from rejoicing to rebuking the Lord. This is why it is essential to have a right understanding for the purposes for which God brings suffering.
If you experience sufferings, it is for your good. Suffering is a part of sanctification. We want to be more like Christ, and it comes with all the pain and bruises. When Christ went to the cross, He didn’t think twice about enduring the wrath of God for you. He suffered in your place. Now we join Him to share in both suffering and glory.
Now, the promise of suffering is presently seen in this passage. Peter helps us to be aware that trials are expected. Take note; His glory will be revealed on the final day when judgment is poured out on our Adversary. Satan’s end is near. He will receive the final blow and be kept locked away forever. Even better Christ’s glory will be the light that shines forever, and we will not have to fear suffering. He who is guilty for harming our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ will be avenged. God keeps His promises, and there will be an end to all suffering at His second coming.