Summary: Christians may experience pain and suffering just because we are Christians... and knowing that, we prepare for it.
Title: Anticipatory Pain and Suffering
Text: I Peter 4:12-19
Thesis: Christians may experience pain and suffering just because we are Christians.
This is the sixth message in a Lenten Series: Knowing Christ through Pain and Suffering.
The Apostle Paul wrote, I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering, becoming like him in his death and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection of the dead. Philippians 3:10-11
When I go to a doctor, I want to know everything. I want to know what has to be done and if the doctor can do it. I want to know if it is going to hurt and if so, how much? I want to know the risks. I want to know the prognosis for complete recovery. I want to know if it is going to be covered by insurance. I want to know if the doctor has ever done this before and if he or she is any good at it.
If I have surgery, I don’t want any surprises. I do not want to hear the surgeon say anything like, “Oops!” or “Wait a minute, if this is his appendix, what is that thing I just removed?” or worst of all, “We had better save that for the autopsy.”
However, I am willing to entrust myself to the care of a medical professional, whom I trust. I am willing to anticipate and experience additional pain and suffering if there is hope of recovery and wholeness following a procedure.
Jesus anticipated his own pain and suffering. In Luke 22:21, as he sat at the table with his disciples, enacting what we now call the Last Supper, he said, “Here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me. For I, the Son of Man, must die since it is part of God’s plan.” Later that same night in the Garden of Gethsemane he prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering from me.” A few days earlier, the day we mark as Palm Sunday, as Jesus was about to make his triumphal entry, he looked out over the city of Jerusalem and began to weep for those who had rejected their opportunity of God’s grace.
Jesus also anticipated our pain and suffering. In John 16:33 Jesus said to his followers, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
In some ways it is unnerving to know that pain and suffering loom on the horizon… anticipating pain and suffering can be as painful, if not more so, than the actual experience of pain and suffering. Some temperaments may prefer to be kept in the dark about whatever may be in the wind. Others of us prefer to know, up front, what we can expect. We do not like surprises. We want to approach life with our eyes wide open. While some may be
paralyzed by the inevitability of pain and suffering, others seize the opportunity to prepare for it.
In our text today, Peter gives the followers of Jesus Christ guidance as to how Christians may anticipate experiences of pain and suffering.
The first thing we are told is, “Don’t be shocked by it.”