Summary: 1 Peter 4:12-19 prepares us to 1) Expect suffering (1 Peter 4:12), 2) Exult in suffering (1 Peter 4:13-14), 3) Evaluate suffering (1 Peter 4:15-18), and 4) Entrust suffering to God (1 Peter 4:19).
1 Peter 4:12-19. Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.  But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.  Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.  For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?  And "If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"  Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (ESV)
Over the past few weeks here in Canada, many hundreds of Christian believers have seen their houses of worship destroyed by fire and acts of vandalism. Rex Murphy in his writing on this ongoing situation asked this question: “If 10 or 20 holy places from any other major religion had been attacked, and in a matter of just a few weeks, what would have been the reaction from governments and the news media?. There would have been a storm on all fronts. Reassurances from the politicians. Visits to the various sites. Relentless questions from the media. Sermons from all altars. Grave condemnations of these horrible “hate crimes.” You would be hearing the familiar line “this is not who we are” from sad-eyed leaders. But in the past few weeks, there has very little of any of this. Strange.” (https://nationalpost.com/opinion/rex-murphy-why-is-it-ok-to-harm-christian-places-of-worship-in-canada)
But Peter said that this should not be strange to you. These fiery trials are here to strengthen you. There are not something strange but what we are to expect in sharing Christ’s sufferings. We are to expect to be treated as Christ was treated. Our response should not be to retaliate with acts of vengeance, threats or general complaining. Believers in Christ can trust the Father and know that our faithful perseverance and living out the truth of the Gospel will glorify God and be a powerful testimony that God will use to draw others to Him.
Through these writings of 1 Peter God is preparing us and strengthening us. As we are finishing up chapter 4 and heading into the final chapter of 1 Peter, Peter thus far has talked about hope, faith, the love of Christ, His word, submission and suffering. Part of the responsibility of a pastor is to prepare the saints of God for difficulty. I am sending you out as Christ does: into a world of indifference, skepticism and hostility. This series has been designed to prepare you for action. When we understand our times, respond in faith and not fear, God will use our loving, bold testimony to draw others to Himself.
To endure the present hostility, as well as what might come in the future, believers need to heed this God’s instruction to remain faithful in times of difficulty. 1 Peter 4:12-19 prepares us to 1) Expect suffering (1 Peter 4:12), 2) Exult in suffering (1 Peter 4:13-14), 3) Evaluate suffering (1 Peter 4:15-18), and 4) Entrust suffering to God (1 Peter 4:19).
In order to withstand the forthcoming trials by fire, we must:
1) Expect Suffering (1 Peter 4:12)
1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (ESV)
Peter is writing to those who he and the Godhead care so much about. He addressed them as “Beloved” (agapetos, cf. 2:11) a common pastoral word conveying tenderness, compassion, affection, and care (cf. 1 Cor. 4:14; 1 Thess. 2:8). Such love provides a sweet pillow for believers’ weary souls to rest on in the midst of trials and persecutions. Severe suffering can tempt believers to doubt God’s love. Thus, the apostle sought to reassure his readers of his and God’s unfailing love. Therefore, even with anxieties and troubles believers in Christ are beloved and belong to a fellowship whose members are knit together by love. (Kelly, J. N. D. (1969). The Epistles of Peter and of Jude (p. 184). London: Continuum.)
Not expecting to be so hatefully persecuted, the believers to whom Peter wrote were understandably surprised, troubled, and confused by their suffering. Perhaps they expected life to be full of blessing, benefits, and divine protection. However, believers’ expectation for suffering is bound up in the words of Jesus, who told the apostles, John 15:18 "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. (ESV).Paul admonished Timothy 2 Timothy 3:12Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, (ESV) and we know of the apostle John’s warning, 1 John 3:13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. (ESV). Believers are warned to expect difficulty, that is why Peter here in 1 Peter 4:12 tells us “do not be surprised”. To be surprised (zenizo), means “to be surprised or astonished” by the novelty of something. We should expect that the gospel of Christ will be offensive to many and will produce persecution. As saints are obedient to God’s Word and effective in proclaiming the gospel, animosity from unbelievers is inevitable. Whether it is hostility toward their exclusive message, their efforts to evangelize, or their godly lifestyle. The idea that normal life should always be harmonious and free from suffering, despite universal suffering and death, remains a lingering echo of life in Eden as God created it before the fall. It is also a longing for the time when there will be no more tears, suffering, pain, and death (Rev. 21:4) (Jobes, K. H. (2005). 1 Peter (p. 286). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.).