Stay Joyful in Seasons of Suffering

Angela Donadio

Day: 18 | Plan: Already but Not Yet

Today's Reading: 1 Peter 4:12-19

1 Peter 4:13 (ESV) "But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed."

Shrouded by the cover of darkness, Peter crouched by the crackling fire. Only moments earlier, he swore his uncompromising devotion to Jesus. Yet, in the blur of Jesus' arrest, Peter ran, terrified at the prospect of suffering for the name of Christ. Restored by grace and commissioned to do great things for the Kingdom, Peter penned today's passage with a transformed perspective.

Under Emperor Nero's orders, the Roman governors treated Christians as criminals. Peter encouraged the beleaguered believers scattered across Asia Minor to stand strong in the face of persecution. The threat of imprisonment and martyrdom loomed large, and Peter himself was eventually executed under Nero's cruel reign. The instructions in 1 Peter 4:12-19 serve as a template for the twenty-first century church undergoing persecution for the gospel today.

Don't be surprised.

"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." 1 Peter 4:12

God uses seasons of suffering to teach us obedience, steer us toward surrender and bring glory to Himself. Suffering shouldn't surprise us; it should refine us. Our attitude in times of testing determines the fruit of a trial.

First Peter 4:13 heartens us: "But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed." We share not only in Christ's glory but also in His sufferings. When I go through difficult situations, I'm tempted to huff, "Why me?" or lament, "Woe is me." Peter's words challenge me to instead prayerfully respond by seeking to understand how God can best use seasons of suffering to advance His Kingdom.

Don't be ashamed.

First Peter 4:14 shares the promise of blessing in times of testing: "If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you." When we endure persecution for our stand for righteousness, not because of our own wrongdoing, we experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in a unique way to empower us, embolden us, enable us and equip us. "Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name" (1 Peter 4:16).

First Peter 4:17-18 begs us to sit with this truth: We may undergo hardship temporarily for our faith, but it's nothing compared to suffering for eternity for lack of faith. When our perspective is eternal, our suffering has purpose.

Don't be derailed.

"Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good" (1 Peter 4:19). We can trust God to use seasons of suffering to bring us closer to Jesus and make us more dependent on Him. Nothing should deter us from our readiness to serve — joyfully — as Christ's representatives, or derail us from our God-given purpose. We don't have to let the fear of man or the intimidation of God's assignments keep us from obeying His call. The safest place we will ever be is in the center of God's will.

Prayer: Father, thank You for holding us close during seasons of suffering. Cover those around the globe undergoing persecution for the sake of Your name with Your all-sufficient grace. Empower us through Your Spirit to stay faithful to You in times of testing and maintain a joyful attitude as we keep our eyes on You. In Jesus' name, amen.

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