SUFFERING IS INEVITABLE
“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21 NKJV).
After having a personal Bible study on the first epistle of Peter some weeks ago, I was led to base one of my weekly devotional messages on the main theme of the epistle: Christian suffering. Such a theme is not a popular theme. I did struggle with the theme before yielding myself to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Peter also initially did not want to be associated with it, and he rebuked Jesus Christ for predicting His own suffering, though Jesus in turn rebuked him and let him and other disciples realize that suffering is inevitable in the Christian life (see Matthew 16:21-25).
Having gone to the “school” of suffering many times in his Christian life, Peter understood the concept of Christian suffering and he could boldly write his first epistle to Christians to encourage them to face suffering so that the true grace of Jesus Christ would be evidenced in them. He made them realize that suffering for being a Christian is following the steps of Christ who also suffered in His body for our sins (see 1 Peter 2:21, 24; 3:18; 4:1). In fact, Peter wanted his recipients to rejoice that they were partaking in Christian suffering (1 Peter 4:13). Interestingly, the original recipients of Peter were passing through many suffering when he wrote this epistle. Apostle Paul also had a similar understanding when he prayed in Philippians 3:10: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (NKJV). He had earlier pointed it out that suffering is included in our faith in Christ (see Philippians 1:29 and 2 Timothy 3:12).
Another fact about Christian suffering is that it is a way of sharpening Christian faith and bringing the best out of Christians. Peter likened it to the relationship of fire and gold. As fire purifies and refines gold to make it valuable, so also Christian suffering makes Christian faith of greater worth than gold (see 1 Peter 1:6-7).
As Peter emphasized it, Christian suffering is not one that is as a result of wrongdoing (see 1 Peter 4:15). It is sharing in the “suffering of Christ” which brings salvation to mankind and brings glory in the future. No wonder, Peter said that we should rejoice in it.
What kind of suffering are you passing through presently? Is it for wrongdoing? Repent and ask for God’s forgiveness. However, if it is Christian suffering, that is, because you are a Christian and you are doing the will of God, rejoice, for you will also share in Christ’s glory at His coming. For a Christian to follow in Christ’s step, Christian suffering is indeed inevitable.
In His service,
Bayo Afolaranmi (Pastor).
Prayer Point: Lord, help me to endure any suffering I am having now because of Your name.