Bible Reading: 1 Peter 4:12-19
“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.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)
Suffering will come in one form or another if it has not already. With the coronavirus still circulating and getting far worse in many countries abroad, many of us will suffer loss. These few years have been a grim time for the whole world and if we have to this point remained largely unaffected, we must thank God for His grace. Nonetheless, if it is not because of this virus, inevitably, one day, we will suffer. This life is not an easy one, and hard times will come. What should be our response to suffering?
Peter says we shouldn’t be surprised. Firstly, we live in a broken world, and suffering is a consequence of sin. Moreover, Jesus says the world will hate us (see John 15:18). As Christians, not only are we going to suffer through loss, pain and sickness, we will also suffer because others will scorn us for our faith. Society will look down on us, mistreat us, and in some places, even kill us. The darkness does not like the light, and when the light shines, the darkness will attack to extinguish the light.
Through all these experiences, the Devil has a plan to tear down our relationship with God. Satan seeks to humiliate God as much as possible and drag as many people with him to hell as possible. He knows that God has won the final battle, but he works even harder today because he knows his time is short. Through suffering, Satan will question us, make us doubt, and make us turn away from God. He tries to shake our faith so that we will fall and reject God.
However, on the flip side, God has a plan. God is sovereign even over all of Satan’s schemes. God has a bigger plan for His people even through Satan’s evil plan. For those in Christ, God will use Satan’s temptations as trials. There is a difference here. Temptations have the purpose of making someone fall, while trials or tests have the motivation to strengthen and consolidate someone’s understanding. And so, through all these trials and tests, God is working to refine our faith and bring us closer to Him.
Because of this, we are called to rejoice and give glory to God in these circumstances. As we suffer, we follow in the footsteps of Christ, who suffered undeservingly for the truth. Mysteriously, when we trust God in these times, our faith is much more active and full of zeal as God’s Spirit who worked in Christ works in us. When we stand firm and hold on to God even as the world and Satan hurl us with lies about God and His goodness, we will have a peace unknown to the world. In the end, suffering will work for the good of those who love God. More than that, it gives glory to God. And so, let us not be ashamed of our suffering, but let us glorify God.
Lord, thank You that You are loving and faithful. Thank You that You are with us even in suffering. Thank You that You use even the hardest things for Your glory. Please help us to trust in You. Help us to resist the Devil’s lies and hope in Your truths. Who do we have but You? You are our portion, our joy and our comfort. To You be all the glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.