Summary: Accept suffering. Say no to fear. Set Christ apart in your heart as Lord!
"Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear  ; do not be frightened."  But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil"1st Peter 3:13-17
Introduction: Black Bart was a professional thief whose very name struck fear as he terrorized the Wells Fargo stage line. From San Francisco to New York, his name became synonymous with the danger of the frontier. Between 1875 and 1883 he robbed 29 different stagecoach crews. Amazingly, Bart did it all without firing a shot. Because a hood hid his face, no victim ever saw his face. He never took a hostage and was never trailed by a sheriff. Instead, Black Bart used fear to paralyze his victims. His sinister presence was enough to overwhelm the toughest stagecoach guard. Today in the Word, August 8, 1992
Transition: Fear is such a strange emotion, I read this week of some fears that are apart of many peoples lives…maybe even your own! Peladophobia: fear of baldness and bald people. Aerophobia: fear of drafts. Porphyrophobia: fear of the color purple. Chaetophobia: fear of hairy people. Levophobia: fear of objects on the left side of the body. Dextrophobia: fear of objects on the right side of the body. Auroraphobia: fear of the northern lights. Calyprophobia: fear of obscure meanings. Thalassophobia: fear of being seated. Stabisbasiphobia: fear of standing and walking. Odontophobia: fear of teeth. Graphophobia: fear of writing in public. Phobophobia: fear of being afraid. Fraser Kent, Nothing to Fear, , Doubleday & Company, 1977.
The Apostle Peter has some reassuring words for us today from 1st Peter 3: 13-17…In Christ there is "No need for Fear". We learn this Lord’s day that:….
Suffering in inevitable
We can say no to fear
There is an antidote for fear.
I: Suffering is inevitable: "Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed" Peter’s question must have hung in the air for a long moment when the Christians who first received this letter heard it. They were no strangers to suffering and indeed had suffered for doing good. Peter is addressing no run of the mill believers, they were very zealous for the Lord in fact in the original language of the Greek New Testament these were people who "burned with zeal" to desire earnestly! What was it that they were so passionate about? Serving God regardless of the cost!
Peter was not dismissing the suffering that was all to real to them not at all in fact he was "Telling them that as a result of their righteous lives and God’s care, their blessedness would be such as to turn off all the malice of their persecutors and make their suffering itself to be a joy!" Kenneth Wuest word studies volume 2 pg 87
Someone asked C.S. Lewis, "Why do the righteous suffer?" "Why not?" he replied. "They’re the only ones who can take it."
Peter says God’s people are blessed for suffering? That is a reoccurring theme in God’s word. There is something about great hardship that allows our Faith if it a genuine faith to shine! What good is faith if it’s never tested? The trying of our faith is more precious than Gold the scripture says! Greatness often lies hidden beneath an easy or comfortable life, only to emerge when suffering is applied to such a life.
In 1962, Victor and Mildred Goertzel published a revealing study of 413 "famous and exceptionally gifted people" called Cradles of Eminence. They spent years attempting to understand what produced such greatness, what common thread might run through all of these outstanding people’s lives. Surprisingly, the most outstanding fact was that virtually all of them, 392, had to overcome very difficult obstacles in order to become who they were. Tim Hansel, Holy Sweat, 1987, Word Books Publisher, Page 134.
I am speaking to someone today who is in the midst of suffering. It has torn at your heart and sapped your strength. You are today a weary follower of Christ. For the Lord, and his great cause you don’t burn with passion; you couldn’t be categorized as being someone who desires him earnestly! And it’s all because of suffering, suffering you believe is undeserved and unwelcome! Could it be that suffering has come to you not as an enemy but as a friend? A friend who will take you by the hand and heart and show you the depths of God’s sufficiency? "Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed" My friends suffering is inevitable, face it in the strength of the Lord! Be passionate about your faith, desire him earnestly.