Sacred suffering (1 Peter 4:12-14)

The past couple of weeks we’ve actually talked very little about trials. What we do know about trials is that believers face trials together. It’s all about the community of the local church. We should never attempt to go it alone.

Peter greatly simplifies his theology for us in these verses. He reminds us of our kinship together. God is bigger than any problems we face. God is our “beloved” because he is affectionately drawn to us regardless of our circumstances.

What we perceive as trials is often trivial to the trials face by others. Regardless of the size of our troubles, someone always has it worse. As long as we are on the topside of the dirt, God can always rectify our situation.

Loving God doesn’t mean we will live trouble-free lives. Sometimes even though we follow Jesus, life still doesn’t turn out the way we’d like. You see, man is full of troubles. And it’s not “if” we will encounter trouble, but “when.” The things that happen to us are not strange to God, but are divinely orchestrated.

Never think God is picking on you or bullying you from heaven. God is faithful. What you’re facing right now has been faced by others before you.

1. How you respond to your problem becomes the real problem. What we think is the problem is not the problem. We will all respond to problems differently. How we respond determines how or if we will overcome our troubles. If you don’t learn, you will keep going through the same problems repeatedly. The outcome is all in our outlook. If we deal with a problem poorly, it will become more of a problem. If we deal with a problem correctly (Biblically), we can move on to the next problem.

There is a difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is called this because it is based on our happenings. Joy is not based on circumstances, but solely on the Christ who lives in us. We experience joy because we are not going to Hell. We can still rejoice even in the midst of trials and temptations.

We have to embrace the reality that because Jesus suffered, we are going to suffer. The servant is not greater than his master. Rejoice, because He is coming again to set all things in order.

2. Rejoicing in suffering allows you to get better not grow bitter. People who seem to be mad at everyone are really just mad at God. Those with “man” problems also have “God” problems. And bitter parents tend to raise bitter children. Bitterness will cause you to do things you cannot even imagine.

Sometimes we suffer at the hands of others. When they persecute you, know that they did it to the prophets before you. This will just build your crown in heaven. The evil speak of those who worship God. Yet God will be vindicated for His glory. So while others speak of evil, we believers get to speak of glory.

3. Because of the truth of God’s word and the power of God’s spirit, we are able to both welcome and withstand the reproach of others. We don’t have to ignore the evils of this world, nor its trials. Instead, we are able to withstand it all. We must stand for what is just, because God is greater than those who come against us. If you stand for Christ, some are going to hate you for it. So we cannot be too concerned about pleasing others. Just rejoice, because God is still good and Jesus is still on the throne.

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