19: ďA person might have to suffer even when it is unfair, but if he thinks of God and stands the pain, God is pleased." - Peter is writing to the early Christians churches who were being persecuted for their faith. In all things, good or bad, when we turn our focus towards God, He is pleased.
20: "If you are beaten for doing wrong, there is no reason to praise you for being patient in your punishment. But if you suffer for doing good, and you are patient, then God is pleased." - Righteousness is the goal and when we exhibit the Christ-like attitudes of loving patience towards others, even our persecutors, then God rejoices.
21: "This is what you were called to do, because Christ suffered of you and gave you an example to follow. So you should do as He did." - Humble yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Christ.
24: "Christ carried our sins in His body on the cross so we would stop living for sin and start living for what is right. And you are healed because of His wounds." - Healed, made whole, and purified by the blood of Christ.
Points to Contemplate:
How well do you handle injustice in your life?
When you feel wronged, do you go off the deep end? Do you rant and rave? Is this the source of most of your anger? When someone cuts you off in traffic, or cuts ahead of you in line, or takes more then their fair share of the Friday morning donuts at work, are you miffed? Do you respond in kind? Do you see that persecution can come in the smallest forms of injustice? How do you think God wants you to respond? Is injustice the issue or is it your response to injustice that is most important?
Are you a suffering servant? If you are not suffering does that mean that you are not following Christ's example? Are you supposed to suffer as a Christian? What is suffering? Is it simply pain and injustice wrapped together with a dollop of indignation? Or is it more about denying your Self? Is suffering a way to keep your ego in check? Is it God's way of turning your focus towards Him? Or is suffering simply something we will all face at one time or another in our lives? If so, will Peter's letter help you to understand how God wants you to respond to those situations when they occur?
Are you living for what is right? Does having been healed by Christ make a difference in your life? Have you made strides towards perfection? Or are you still struggling with the "being made holy" part? Have you identified your sins but have difficulty leaving them behind? Could it be because you are still trying to do it on your own? Peter's message throughout his writings consistently tells us to turn from sin and towards Christ. Isn't the key to success the turning towards Christ part? Don't you realize you will never be able to make significant and long-term changes in your life without His help? Promises of the Gospel:
Suffering - it is our human mantra. Even on the best of days we tend to look at our barriers in life as personal vendettas or hurdles lying before us. We want our paths to be made straight and our way made easy. So when we struggle, when we face pain and suffering, or when we encounter adversarial situations, we magnify the problem and become focused on it. Peter reminds us that God is pleased in our efforts to do good, but we do not have to go it alone. "People who trust the Lord will become strong again. They will rise up as an eagle in the sky; they will run and not need rest; they will walk and not become tired." (Is 40: 31 NCV) When we turn towards Christ we are healed and empowered to carry the cross of our suffering into the kingdom of Heaven - victorious and glorified so that all may come to know of His love.