I am going to make one of the simplest observations about God’s people in the Bible: they suffered. Whether it was Abel being killed, Noah persevering through ridicule, Abraham facing an uncertain future, Jeremiah weeping over Jerusalem and thrown into jail, or Paul enduring persecution, everyone who wants to live a godly life will face suffering. In fact, all of the New Testament epistles have something to do with this issue of suffering.
Peter wanted to make it clear that every Christian should neither be surprised nor shocked when they suffer. If our Lord suffered, we, too, will suffer. Rather than this being a huge Debbie Downer sort of thing, Peter interprets a Christian’s suffering as a privilege, even a blessing. It is a mark of belonging – a sign that God’s Spirit is within us. If we do stupid things, we face the consequences. But when we do good things for God, the consequence is a kind of suffering that puts us in solidarity with Christ. “Be glad for the chance to suffer as Christ suffered. It will prepare you for even greater happiness when he makes his glorious return.”
Sometimes it can be rough. It’s one thing to suffer. It’s another to keep suffering day in and day out. So, what to do? “If you suffer for obeying God, you must have complete faith in your faithful Creator and keep on doing right.” Bad attitudes, giving up, or revenge are not options on the table for the Christian. Instead, we persevere in the doing of good. It may not be easy, but God sees and he will vindicate our work.
Dear Jesus, it is a small thing for me to suffer in light of your great suffering on my behalf through the cross. Empower me to do right every day so that praise will always be on my lips for you. Amen.