Day 25 I Peter 4:12-19
You pray. The pain continues. You wait. The situation worsens. You claim the promises of God. The promise doesn't seem to arrive and your heart grows heavy. It is the weight of waiting.
In I Peter 4:12-19, the apostle writes:
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or 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 the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 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.
In the context of I Peter 3 and 4, Peter seems to be referring here to being persecuted for living the Christian life. Yet, when he tells us not to be surprised by trials we face and to instead rejoice as we are given the opportunity to participate in the sufferings of Christ, there seems to be a principle that reaches beyond persecution for the faith. What about the other sufferings of life? What about the physical sufferings, the emotional sufferings, the mental sufferings that we may endure?
Some are under the delusion that, because we are Christians, we should be exempt from life's sufferings. We should be able to pray and God will relieve our sufferings every time. However, ask any Christian who has been down that road and you will learn that this is not reality. Reality is that, while we pray for God's healing and relief, most often that healing and relief does not come immediately. In fact, our prayers are often not answered the way we had hoped at all.
So, what do we do? We wait. We do as verse 19 of I Peter 4 tells us: So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. Does that mean we are to suffer in silence, become stoic in our resolve and put on a hard exterior to endure the pain? No. Before telling his readers to "commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good," Peter also told them what kind of attitude they should develop: But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed (vs. 13).
That does not mean we are to be happy with our suffering. It means maintaining a joyful attitude because we know the end of the story. Our sufferings are only for a season even if that season seems to be dragging on and on. It will come to an end. We look forward to seeing God's glory revealed as promised. That may happen as He releases us from the trial we are in or when our life on this earth ends. Either way, His glory will be revealed and when it does, if we have maintained a joyful attitude, we will "be overjoyed when his glory is revealed" (vs. 13)! This attitude is full of hope, peace in the midst of pain, and an abiding joy that is the presence of God regardless what we are going through. Easy? No, but it is worth every second. As we wait, we pray. We continue to have honest dialogue with the Lord. Our praise to Him is unceasing and our trust remains. It can be a heavy burden, but the weight of waiting on the Lord is one that we can bear knowing Who is waiting for us in the end.