Summary: This morning we’re going to look at some of the attitudes we should have if we suffer for doing the right thing.
Attitudes in Times of Suffering (Part 1)
Preached by Pastor Tony Miano
at Lake Hills Community Church
Introduction: We’ve come to the point in Peter’s letter where he begins to speak about the central theme of his message. From here on out, Peter will comfort, encourage and teach believers how to endure the suffering that can come with the Christian faith. Let’s read 1 Peter 3:13-22.
Over the next two weeks, we’re going to take a close look at our attitudes in times of suffering. There are several things you won’t hear over the next two weeks. You won’t hear that if you’re suffering, you lack faith. You won’t hear that if you become a Christian all those times of pain and hardship will be a thing of the past. You won’t hear that you should just “suck it up” because there are people a lot worse off than you. And you won’t hear a full-proof formula that will help you avoid suffering in the future.
What you will hear is that times of suffering can be opportunities for emotional and spiritual growth. You will hear that there can be blessing in the midst of suffering. You will hear that unlike times of testing, which are inevitable in the Christian’s life, Peter considers real suffering to be a remote possibility in the life of the believer.
You will hear about certain pieces of equipment, character traits, which will see you through times of suffering. And you will receive comfort and be encouraged to stand firm in the midst of suffering as we hear about the One who suffered all things on our behalf. As Christians we can be assured that our times of suffering are not in vain, but are part of God’s sovereign will, which is so much better than our own plans and desires.
This morning we’re going to look at some of the attitudes we should have if we suffer for doing the right thing. As we dig deep into God’s Word, I want you to consider this. Are you an egg or a potato?
You see, when you face times of suffering, you will respond either like an egg or like a potato. “A potato goes into boiling water hard, but comes out pliable. An egg goes into the boiling water soft and comes out hard” (Anonymous).
Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? (v. 13)
Peter begins this section of his letter with a rhetorical question. Peter’s rhetorical question in verse thirteen is connected with what he had just said in verse twelve. When Peter asks “Who is there?” he is calling for the reader to think of a specific person. Peter is not asking the reader to think of a specific person who might try to harm them. He is asking them to think of a specific person who would actually be able to harm them.
Peter is basically telling the reader, “If you do what is right no one can really harm you.” In other words, as we see in verse twelve, no real harm can come to the person who has the eyes of the Lord watching them. No real harm can come to the believer who has God’s ear listening to his or her prayers.
The Apostle Paul agreed with Peter on this point when he said in Romans 8:31, “what then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” King David felt the same kind of assurance when he wrote in Psalm 56:4, “In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?”
Now you might hear that and say, “What are you talking about? If what Peter is saying is true, then why do believers suffer? Why am I going through this hell right now?” Peter isn’t saying that believers won’t suffer. After all, Peter was a believer who suffered for his faith in Christ. He is saying that if, as a believer, you are doing what is right and you are living your life for Christ, the chances of suffering are remote. Where Peter talks about enjoying life on earth in verses 10-12, in verse thirteen he wants his readers to have an eternal perspective.
In other words, in the grand scheme of things, no matter how much we may suffer here on earth, can anyone do anything to cause us any real harm? Can anyone do anything to separate the believer from Christ? Peter’s rhetorical question asks for the emphatic answer, “No!”
Peter is setting the tone for the rest of the passage and the rest of his letter, for that matter. Having explained to his readers that even in times of suffering nothing can cause them any real harm in the eternal realm, he can now speak with confidence and credibility about the attitudes believers should have if they should suffer–especially if they should suffer for doing what is right.