August Scripture of the Month
1 Peter 4:12-16
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 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. 14 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. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, of as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
Why do good people have to suffer? The question has been asked countless times. There are many good and Biblical answers: we live in a fallen world, God is chastening us, nobody is truly righteous, et cetera, et cetera. There’s nothing wrong with these answers. Many Christians will accept them, and truly believe there is a reason for the suffering in the world; but they often still go through the pain and suffering in their own lives with an attitude of “God, why are these things happening to me?”
Instead of asking why we suffer, as though it were something strange happening to us, I would like to point out this fact: all of us do indeed suffer. It’s plain and simple: we live in a fallen world, and we do suffer. God must have a reason for everything that I’m going through; I don’t understand now, but He promises me that I will (1 Corinthians 13:12). Therefore, instead of continuing to ask “Why?”, we ought to ask the question “How?” How are we to suffer? What should be our attitude? The answer is found right here in Peter’s first epistle: “Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings”. Think about this: Christ not only saved us from the righteous wrath of His Father, but He also gives us the privilege of suffering for Him! His honor now becomes ours. Through our trials in life, we are experiencing the practical results of having God as our Father and Christ as our elder Brother; we are given everything that ought to belong to princes and princesses, children of the King of all, with all their pleasures and responsibilities. We need to change our mindset – it is an honorable privilege, not a loathsome burden, to suffer for our Savior!
Don’t be afraid of being ridiculed for your faith. If you suffer because you are a Christian, Peter says, glorify God! Countless martyrs gone before us illustrate this. When they went to their death because of Christ (a privilege that many of us never receive), they gave God until their last breath. Because of their steadfast faith, others who witnessed or heard of the martyrs often received Christ themselves. At one time in ancient Rome, men who were not Christians themselves pleaded with the persecutors of the Christians: “Stop persecuting the Christians! The more you oppress them, the more their faith spreads!”