1 Peter 4:12-14

Read 1 Peter 4:12-14
People who knew my father before he became ill describe him as a funny, extroverted, devoted family man who loved his job as a county extension agent. I marvel at their descriptions because the dad I grew up with wasn’t the man they knew.

The father I knew was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was twenty-nine. Within a few years, he was unable to walk, write, read, control his bladder, or provide for his wife and three young children. My mom, my siblings, and I cared for him at home for more than two decades. Eventually he developed diabetes, and Mom had to move him into a nursing home. At that time, he was the home’s youngest resident. When he died fourteen years later, Dad was still their youngest resident. He’d also been there the longest.

Dad suffered great loss. He was often sad, but he didn’t grow bitter. Instead, he cultivated joy. As little kids, my siblings and I would push his wheelchair up the hill by our house. Then we’d climb on his lap and whiz down the hill together. The fun ended when Mom found out what was going on. Ah well, it was good while it lasted.

Once Dad couldn’t get outside, he hosted cribbage games for a retired neighbor, my uncle who often stopped by after school, men from our church, and anyone else he could lure into the house. Even after Dad was confined to bed and confused by the rules of the game, his friends kept coming. Perhaps because of the way he grinned, and his eyes lit up when they entered his bedroom.

Members of my father’s generation didn’t talk openly about their faith. Once I was mature enough to ask Dad about his faith journey, he was unable to answer. I had no assurance of his relationship with Jesus, and that bothered me.

I shared my concern with my husband who was an intensive care nurse. He thought for a while and then said, “I’ve watched a lot of patients suffer. The longer they suffer, the more the true spirit inside them is revealed. Your dad has suffered for years, and he’s never grown bitter. I don’t think he could do that without the Spirit of Christ alive within him.”

1 Peter 4:12-14, explains how my father shared in the sufferings of Christ and why he could be joyful in suffering. It was because the Spirit of Jesus rested on him and lived in him. This is ever our hope and glory as believers when we suffer. Christ with us, his Spirit in us, and the glory of God’s blessing upon us as we endure to the end.

Questions for reflection:
      1.  Who have you seen suffer well?
      2.  How does this man’s life encourage you?
Jolene Philo | Author

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