1 Peter 2:21-25

Read 1 Peter 2:21-25
My parents recently got a new puppy and named her Winnie. Though I am partial to my own dog, I have to admit Winnie is the cutest dog I have ever seen. The first time I held Winnie, she was less than 5 pounds! Winnie could hardly run through the grass without tripping because she was so small, and not the most coordinated. It was too cute. Though being with Winnie is full of joy and laughter, that doesn’t negate the fact that she is still a puppy. She occasionally bites, she isn’t potty trained, and she can wake up in the middle of the night. Clearly the joy and laughter outweigh all of the other challenges, but just because it outweighs them, it doesn’t mean the other hard parts don’t exist.
 
This is a little bit of what it can be like to follow Jesus. Though many of my days following Jesus are filled with love, joy, peace, grace and hope; that certainly doesn’t mean all of them are that way. Not only are some days missing those things, they are also filled with suffering and trials.
 
‘To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.’ If I’m honest, I don’t like this verse much. I’d much rather have Winnie bite me all day with her puppy teeth, than have to suffer or experience trials. Yet, just because I’d rather experience God’s love, joy, peace, and hope instead of suffering, doesn’t make me exempt from suffering.  So, what do we do with it?
 
Two things have helped me suffer well. First-expecting to suffer. We have to recognize that suffering is our calling as Christians. It’s not an 'if we suffer', it’s a 'when we suffer'. Sometimes as Christians we can get into the mindset that as long as we follow Jesus, God will bless us. I know I’ve thought that before, which turned my heart to be mad at God when difficult things happened. The reality of it is that God’s blessings sometimes come through suffering. I know I’ve had to retrain my thinking when I read the parable about the man who built his house upon the rock and the man who built his house upon the sand. I’ve had to see that just because I’ve built my house on the rock, doesn’t mean I am exempt from the storms. Both houses experience the storm. The difference is that the man who builds his house upon the rock, which has Christ as the cornerstone, his house will still be standing after the storm.
 
Secondly, we need to understand what suffering actually does before we enter into suffering. Romans 5:3-5 sheds light on this ‘because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope’. Suffering produces perseverance, character, and ultimately hope. When we aren’t surprised by our suffering, and we understand what our suffering is doing, it softens the sting. It certainly doesn’t make us exempt from our pain, or grief. But amidst our pain, we can cling to hope. Hope in Jesus to help us in our pain, right here and now, but also hope in what Jesus promises for our future. Full restoration and redemption.
 
Let us not forget while part of our calling is to experience God’s grace, peace, love, and hope; it’s also to suffer. So, let’s embrace what we have been called to as we look to Christ for His strength to guide us through whatever comes our way.

Questions for reflection:

  1.  How does expecting to suffer help you when suffering comes?
  2.  How does your suffering change when you understand beforehand what suffering is going to produce?
Jay Quick | Student Ministries Director

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