Summary: To find benefit in pain, do not fear people; fear and follow Christ.
Joanna Lerud of Steamboat Rock, Iowa, was standing up to leave a restaurant when she hit her head hard on a lamp hanging above the table. As she staggered away, she heard an older gentleman, who was sitting nearby, say, “It will feel better when it stops hurting.” (Joanna Lerud, Steamboat Rock, Iowa, “Lite Fare,” Christian Reader; www.PreachingToday.com)
Talk about stating the obvious. Sure, it will feel better WHEN it stops hurting, but what about feeling better BEFORE it stops hurting. As believers in Jesus Christ, we know that life will be great in heaven, but what about enjoying life here on earth with all its hassles? Sure, the pain will be gone in glory, but what about finding the benefit in pain today?
How do you do that? How do you find the blessing in affliction? How do you find the privilege even in your problems? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to 1 Peter 3, 1 Peter 3, where God’s Word tells people who are suffering unfairly how to find blessing in that pain.
1 Peter 3:13-14 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled... (ESV)
If you’re going to find the blessing in pain, especially in those times when you are unfairly treated, then God would say to you…
DON’T FEAR PEOPLE.
Don’t be frightened by their threats. Don’t be stirred up by their attempts at intimidation, because no real harm can come to the believer.
Here in verse 14, Peter quotes Isaiah, one of the Old Testament prophets. In that context, the armies of Syria and Israel had allied themselves against the little country of Judah. Everyone in that little country was afraid, but God told Isaiah, “Do not fear what they fear” (Isaiah 8:12).
It would be like God saying to us today: Do not fear those who would destroy our country from within and without. Do not fear entities like the Chinese Communist Party, which unleashed a pandemic on the world. Do not fear militant Muslims, who want to wipe Christians off the face of the earth. They’re not the real threat, because God prevents them from doing any real harm to the believer. The worst they can do is kill you, but for the believer in Christ that only means an entrance into heaven.
In the early 1940’s, Nikolai Velimirovic, a Serbian bishop, spoke out against Nazism. As a result, he was arrested and taken to the Dachau concentration camp. This is the prayer he prayed even as he faced the brutality of the Nazi government.
“Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them. Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have… Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an un-hunted animal does, so have I. Persecuted by enemies, [I have] found the safest sanctuary, having [established] myself beneath your tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.” (Bill White, Paramount, California; www.PreachingToday.com)
Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). If you want to enjoy the benefit of pain, then God would say to you, “Don’t fear people.” Instead…
Revere Him. Regard Him as the holy Lord in your life.
When two enemy nations invaded Isaiah’s little country and everybody was afraid, God told Isaiah, “Do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy” (Isaiah 8:12-13).
Here, Peter uses some of that same terminology.
1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy.”
Jesus is the only One you should treat with special respect, not your enemies nor anyone else who tries to threaten or intimidate you. If you want to enjoy the benefit of pain, then learn to fear Christ in your hearts, not people.
That means, 1st of all, treat him with special respect by what you say. Fear Christ in word. Show reverence for Christ by what comes out of your mouth.
1 Peter 3:15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect... (ESV)
Warren Wiersbe says, “When Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives, each crisis becomes an opportunity for witness.” But this is true only if you’re prepared to give an answer when people ask you how you can have so much hope when you’re in so much pain.