“Rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings.” (1 Peter 4:13, NKJV)
Even though we might see it coming, even though we are given a heads up to expect it, we can still be surprised by suffering.
In the upper room with Peter and the other disciples, on the verge of securing victory through His death and resurrection, Jesus brought His discourse to a close with these words: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
We are told to expect tribulation. It is a given while we are in this world. In alerting us to it, Jesus injected words of courage and encouragement when He spoke of His overcoming the world. That does not mean, however, that our trials and tribulations are not painful and not a challenge to handle.
It is against the background of our Lord’s words that Peter addresses us. He captures our attention by addressing us as “beloved.” We are ones loved by Jesus. We meet suffering not as ones abandoned or neglected but as ones deeply, unwaveringly loved. With that salutation, Peter nestles us in the arms of our Lord Jesus as we undergo fiery trials.
Peter goes on to issue us a caution and a calling. “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Pet. 4:12–13).
Peter is reminding us that Christ’s road was suffering to glory and we who bear His name walk that same road. Our Lord taught this earlier in His discourse: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:18–20).
Are you insulted for Christ? Are you reviled for your witness? Know this by faith: you are blessed. Why? How? Because “the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Pet. 4:14), and that Spirit unites you to Him who overcame for you.
REFLECTION: As Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him, so we press on with Him.
Unless noted otherwise, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.