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 Your Sufferings
What makes you happy? The end of the school year and the beginning of summer vacation? Seeing a beloved family member again after a long separation? Being able to spend some time on the golf course or in the wood shop or at the pool?
How about suffering? Does suffering make you happy? Would you consider it pure joy to actually suffer physical violence because you told other people about Jesus?
Jesus’ apostles really did consider it pure joy to suffer in that way. One time, after the Jewish ruling council had them flogged for preaching about Jesus, they “went out…rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be treated shamefully on behalf of the Name” of Jesus (Acts 5:41). In fact, they went right back to the temple and kept telling people about Jesus, despite the punishment they had just endured.
The apostle Peter tells us in today’s Bible passage that we, too, can “rejoice as [we] share in the sufferings of Christ.” When people ridicule us for being Christians, we can consider ourselves blessed because God’s Spirit rests on us. Such suffering doesn’t come to us because we’re doing something wrong. Rather it comes because we’re doing something right. We’re suffering for following Jesus. And that is nothing to be ashamed of.
But rejoicing in our sufferings is not something that comes naturally. When someone ridicules us, our first reaction is to strike back at them, not to rejoice. Yet, all that changes when we remember the one for whom we are suffering. We’re suffering because we belong to Jesus, who lived, died, and rose again for us and soon will return in glory to take us to the eternal joys of heaven. Because we belong to Jesus, we, like the apostles, have been counted worthy to be treated shamefully on behalf of his name. What a reason to rejoice!
Lord Jesus, thank you for the privilege of being able to suffer for your name. Amen.