How to Suffer Well
Text: 1 Peter 4:12-19 | Listen to Message
The Apostle Peter’s instructions on how to suffer well sound a little like a checklist:
- Don’t be surprised by suffering. Check.
- Rejoice in the opportunity to share in Christ’s sufferings. Check.
- Make sure you’re not suffering for wrongdoing. Check.
- Don’t be ashamed when you suffer as a Christian. Check.
- Glorify God in how you identify with Christ. Check.
So that’s it? Don’t be caught off guard, don’t sin, and don’t be ashamed? Be happy and praise God somehow? And then what? The trial will go away? I’ll feel better? I’ll be better?
No, this is not a checklist for eliminating trials from your life. I think this is just practical, wise advice on how to let God change you even when your circumstances may not change. If your focus is on the shock, the humiliation, or the unfairness of your suffering, you’ll probably go to a very dark place. But if your focus is on identifying with Christ and praising him for the bad as well as the good, you have a better chance of seeing your trials as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks.
But this still isn’t your ultimate guide for how to suffer well. That comes in 1 Peter 4:19 – “Therefore, let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
What this verse tells us is that trials aren’t designed just to show you what you’re made of, they’re designed to show you what God’s made of!
When trials come to believers, we often ask questions like, “I wonder what God is trying to show me about myself” or “I wonder what weakness he’s wanting to turn into a strength.”
And, sure, that’s a part of how God multitasks when we face trials. He can certainly use tests to show us where we’re deficient or proficient.
Another thing believers like to do when we suffer is we trot out our faithfulness. “See my faith, God? Do you see my obedience, my performance, my efforts to follow you and honor you? Now can you please make the bad thing go away?”
But what if the secret to suffering well is not how well you can prove out your faithfulness to God but how well you can prove out his faithfulness to you?
What if, instead of trusting your own faith, your own grip strength, you simply entrusted yourself to the care of a loving and wise Creator – and found that he was enough? What if you reached the end of your rope, and even fell, but discovered a Savior who would never let you go?