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1 Peter 4:12-19



Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name …


So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (verses 12-16, 19)

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One of the key moments in the Gospels comes when Peter makes his revelatory declaration of Jesus’ identity – “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”(Matthew 16:16). He nailed it! It’s a true insight, given by God the Father himself.


Shortly after, Jesus began telling his disciples that he must “suffer many things at the hand of the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law” (Matthew 16:21). Peter was shocked beyond belief. How could the Son of the living God suffer?Rebuking Jesus, he told him this could never – ever! – happen. Jesus, of course, turned the rebuke back, telling Peter he didn’t “have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23) – suffering was a necessary part of his mission. The strength of the rebuke (“Get behind me, Satan!”) meant Peter never forgot.


I think that whole experience must have influenced what Peter now writes. “Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” If our Lord and Master suffered, we will, too. Such suffering is not a “strange” event, but rather a participation in the very experience of Christ.


Rejoice when that’s the case, knowing that Christ’s glory follows his suffering – so, too, for us. The Apostle Paul affirms this same reality: “we are … co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17). And again: “If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection” (Romans 6:5).


It’s important to note, however, that not all suffering is included in this reality. We can suffer simply because of our own sinfulness and wrongdoing. Peter, illustrating the fact, gives us examples that immediately ring true – suffering as a murderer, thief, or criminal of any kind, does not qualify as “sufferings of Christ.” Unexpectedly, he adds “meddler” to the list, alerting us to the fact that “lesser” sins can also produce un-Christlike suffering. We might include outbursts of anger, quarrelsomeness, lust, jealousy, covetousness, and more.


But if we suffer for him, being “insulted because of the name of Christ,” we are blessed. Indeed, “the Spirit of glory and of God rests” on us. God’s glory rested on the mountain when Moses went up to receive the Law – and the people trembled. His glory filled the Temple when Solomon dedicated it – and the priests couldn’t enter. Now the glory of his Spirit rests upon us as we experience suffering for Christ’s name. What an amazing blessing – the presence of Almighty God descending upon us.


There will certainly be suffering – yes, it can’t be avoided. But glory’s coming. And in the meantime, the glorious power of our Lord rests upon us. How good.

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O Lord, strengthen me to endure amid whatever suffering comes. Give me patience and trust. Fill me with the hope of your coming glory. And allow me to know the presence of your Spirit resting on me. To the glory of Jesus. Amen.

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Reflect:

Talk to the Lord about your experience at the moment. Is there suffering? Does past suffering still linger? Put it all in the hands of your Lord.

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