For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. (1 Peter 2:19)
Are you kidding me? That’s not fair! But it gets worse when you look at the preceding verse: “Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” Slaves are supposed to obey their masters? Even the harsh ones? Is that a misprint? No, it’s not. That is the basis of our mindset as Christians—humble obedience in unjust suffering.
As if he is concerned that maybe he hadn’t made his point well enough, Peter adds this in verses 21-23: “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” That’s a heavy example to follow.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) Jesus did no wrong, yet he suffered for us, taking our place on the cross. This was the ultimate in unjust suffering. It was our sins which put Him there. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” Peter doesn’t mince words as he tells us all of this. It’s expected that all of us will suffer. “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (1 Peter 4:19) No surprises, just patient endurance while continuing the mission. (Revelation 13:10 and James 5:10)
It doesn't matter what kind of suffering we are experiencing. Persecution for our testimony? Maybe, but it’s not limited to that. Missing out on a promotion for a job you deserved to get? Wounds from a trusted friend? A terminally ill loved one? Children who rebel against everything we had hoped for them? Getting caught in an economic turmoil not of our own making, but still losing everything we had worked so many years to get? It’s all suffering.
One key aspect is that if bad things happens to the ungodly, they will also happen to the godly. “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45) The reason for this is that we are to be examples to the world of His peace in the midst of turmoil. There is no greater witness for God than a Christian who bears up under the pain of unjust suffering.
I take comfort that our suffering is limited to this lifetime, this world. Our reward for faithful, patient endurance is in the next life, when we are face to face with God, and justice is finally brought to fruition. Then, “They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…” (Revelation 21:3b-4)
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
© 2018 Darvis McCoy
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™