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.
1 Peter 4:12,13
Rejoice in Suffering
After a difficult day, you go home, get comfortable, and cozy up on the couch. Suddenly, the doorbell rings. Then, there is a banging at the door. You were not expecting company. Whoever it is, is not welcome. You try to ignore it, but it does not stop. So, you get up, walk to the door, and open it. Your annoying neighbor pushes their way in, flops down on the couch, props their feet on your coffee table, and drinks down your glass of wine. You shake your head at the rudeness of this unwelcome guest.
The trials we face as Christians can seem like unwelcome guests. These trials go beyond life’s annoyances and inconveniences. They are the painful experiences we endure because we follow Jesus. When we do good, the world calls us evil. When we speak God’s truth, the world labels us as liars. When we show the love of Jesus, the world hates us for it.
The question is not whether I will face persecution for my faith. The question is how I will respond when persecution comes knocking. The apostle Peter says we should not be surprised. Jesus said it would be this way. “Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Therefore, Peter encourages us to embrace this suffering with joy. Suffering is not evidence that God has abandoned you. Suffering is proof that you are partnered with Jesus. He died and was raised to life to open the way that leads through this life’s dangers and disappointments to the inexhaustible and inexpressible joys of the glorious life to come. The suffering we experience for following Jesus keeps us from getting too comfortable in this world. Suffering reminds us that salvation is coming.
So, chin up. Welcome suffering with a smile. And walk on.
Lord Jesus, I rejoice in all that you suffered for me. Help me to be joyful whenever I must suffer for you. Amen.