Summary: Surving the various hardships and trials of life is possible only when the Christians understands the overriding plan of God adn is committed to Him in sincerity and faithfulness.
Title: “Surviving Your Suffering”
I Peter 4:12-16 “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”
Emerging from the myriad problems and hardships in life with an increased faith is possible for the Christian only when he or she understands the overriding plan of God and purpose He has for all who are committed to Him in sincerity.
It is a simple fact that no one is immune from pain and suffering in this life. Whether we are rich or poor, educated or unlearned, popular or almost unnoticed, there will be a certain amount of pain that we must deal with as we live out life for Christ while on this earth. Not all Christians suffer to the same degree as others do, but all experience pain and hardship to some extent. It is also true that both Christians and unbelievers will experience hardship of some sort. A wise man once observed that life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it. I believe that sentiment is very true. Warren Wiersbe has noted that our attitude directly determines our altitude!
We should remember that the entire epistle of First Peter was written to early first century Christians who were beginning to enduring great trials because of their faith; indeed, the whole book deals either directly or indirectly with this single theme. The Apostle has already mentioned suffering near the opening of his letter:
I Peter 1:6-7 “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in
heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more
precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto
praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”
Up to this point, Peter has had many things to say about responding to suffering, especially that which is brought about through the hostilities and resentments of others around us. In the middle of chapter four, Peter begins to give a list of ways believers in Christ can respond to such hostilities. Since Christians are presently living near the consummation of human history (evidenced by the imminence of the Lord’s return), he exhorted his readers to be alert and watch as they pray (4:7). He also encouraged them to love each other to the very limit (the literal meaning of the Greek word translated “fervent”) because such love has a redemptive value. This love was also to be extended in the church through acts of hospitality toward each other “without complaining” (4:9). Next, Peter instructed his suffering readers to continue in their spiritual growth through the proper exercise and regulation of their spiritual gifts (4:10-11). Obeying all of these injunctions would help these early Christians keep their trials and pain in a proper, heavenly perspective. These commands are also brought to bear upon us today as we are called to suffer in the name of our Lord. In light of this information, Peter is challenging us to keep three important facts in mind as they pertain to sanctified suffering. First of all, he is reminding us that:
1. Suffering is Guaranteed by God (v. 12)
It is important for us all to understand that Peter is not referring here to the ordinary trials and inconveniences that we are all too familiar with. All of us here experience these every day in many ways. Many sincere Christians face a host of problems that are the natural result of living in the world. Facing unexpected expenses (if the car suddenly breaks down), the stress of meeting important deadlines, coping with sicknesses and even surgery, getting stuck in a traffic jam on the way to work, having an argument with a spouse, or not being able to find the remote control for the television set are all ordinary trials. Although these examples do create temporary stress and hardship to a certain extent, they cannot rightly be classified as the type of trial Peter is alluding to here in verse twelve. Peter is talking about fiery trials; these are extremely intense, prolonged, and may even threaten our very lives.