If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or a 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. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel?

And, ‘If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (1 Peter 4:15-19)

Suffering in this life is inevitable. It is unfortunately the lot of Adam’s descendants in a fallen world. Grief, pain, sickness, and loss are all part of the consequences of the ‘Pandora’s box’ released on the world by one man’s disobedience. No one, not even the best of us, escapes.

Suffering comes in many disguises and for many different reasons. Our bodies suffer disease and disabilities because the planet we live on is polluted; we abuse them with drugs, alcohol, gluttony, and sexual promiscuity; we overindulge in bitterness, hatred, rage, jealousy and unforgiveness. The cycle of sin and destruction continues from one generation to the next unless, through God’s grace, we stop the rot and turn the tide in our own lives and the lives of our descendants.

Make no mistake, you will suffer. No one is immune. But . . . Jesus said:

‘I have told you these things so that, in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ (John 16: 33)

‘If you suffer because of sin, you deserve it. You are getting what’s coming to you, so take it on the nose and don’t complain,’ said Peter. However, if you suffer for no fault of your own because you wear the name of Jesus, that’s a whole different ball game.

Something happens inside of us when we understand the purpose of the suffering we go through for no reason other than our allegiance and obedience to Jesus as our Lord. When we believed in Him, through the Holy Spirit we became fused to Him in a union so intimate that we became participants of His life. That means that His very nature became ours – the DNA of God was infused into us. A new disposition and mind-set became possible.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15: 5)

Peter’s instruction throughout this letter is clear: If your are suffering for your confession that Jesus is Lord, take it without retaliating. This is the way to stop the rot. Jesus showed us how it works. He suffered without reciprocating. Whatever they did to Him, however cruel and unjust their treatment of Him, He absorbed it into Himself. Instead of perpetuating it by threats or insults of His own, He remained serene and at peace inside Himself because He knew that it was not His fight.

This kind of attitude is liberating for the person who is at the receiving end. He changes the environment from revenge to forgiveness. He does not add his own sin to the ones who sin against him. He does not react; he responds with a different spirit and, by doing so, exposes the wickedness of those who mistreat him. How can he do this? By stepping back and leaving the vindication to the just Judge.

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Consider this: From where do the insults and cruelty meted out against you originate? From your heart or the heart of the perpetrator? From the perpetrator, of course. He must own the guilt because whatever he says or does against you is a mirror of his own heart. If you say or do nothing to retaliate, you are acknowledging that the guilt is his, not yours. You can remain innocent and free from complicity with him if you receive the abuse without reacting.

By God’s grace you can change the environment and turn the tables on your persecutor by doing as Peter counselled:

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

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Luella Campbell

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