Sacred suffering (1 Peter 4:16-19)

Last week we looked at how not to suffer as Christians. We are all going to suffer, and there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. When we ask, “Why me, Lord?” expect God to retort, “Why not you?”

In these 4 verses, Peter explains how we are to suffer as Christians. Let us glorify God on behalf of our suffering. This means we don’t get mad and have a pity party, but use our suffering as an opportunity to being glory to a God who is allowing us to suffer for His own purposes.

1. A spiritual outlook will make suffering a privilege and not a problem. When you see suffering as spiritual, you will embrace it as a privilege and not a problem. A problem is something we run from. Three times Paul asked God to take away his “thorn in the flesh,” and God ensured Paul that, “My grace is sufficient.” And so Paul gloried in his infirmity so that God would be glorified.

We live in these “temples” that age and become infirm, yet our “inward man” is renewed every day when we suffer for God’s glory. Then suffering becomes less of a problem. We try to learn from it. It is sometimes not the will of God to remove us from the storm, but to carry us through the storm.

During Peter’s time, the early believers were under Nero’s persecution. Thus, the judgment to which Peter refers was allowed so that God could separate the genuine believers from the phonies.

2. God is pruning His church and revealing who is truly not ashamed of the gospel. We will soon find out who the real believers are. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is going to heaven. When persecution comes, the fake believers will walk away. And then we will learn who really believes the gospel of God and who doesn’t.

Don’t talk about your willingness to die for Jesus; first be willing to live for Him. No man is going to bring revival, and no man is going to stop revival. If you look at the landscape, it is amazing that anyone is being saved.

3. Those without Christ are going to experience true suffering and condemnation. If you see earthly suffering as something terrible, imagine eternally what it will be like for those who haven’t repented. If you are saved by the grace of God, your earthly suffering will be as bad as it ever gets. If you aren’t saved, this is as good as it will ever be.

God knows what we can or cannot withstand. If God created us, then He equips us to endure suffering in a way that brings honor to His name. He is faithful in every area of our lives.

4. No matter what we face, we can trust the faithful wisdom of God. No matter our earthly circumstances, Jesus is enough. He is faithfully wise in our marriages. He is faithfully wise in our finances. He is faithfully wise in the face of a dreaded diagnosis.

It is doubtful that God will ever use a man greatly until he has been hurt deeply. Everyone wants the power, but no one wants the process.

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