Reasons Peter Gives to Support that Impossible Demand to Rejoice in Suffering
–Suffering is necessary (v.18). Anyone who is a son, is disciplined by their Father. Discipline isn’t great, but even earthly Fathers need to do it. As Christians, we don’t have the question “why” about suffering, and that lessens our worry.
–It’s not suffering in isolation, it’s corporate suffering (v. 17). There is a measure of comfort and solidarity and consolation that comes in having other people around and in acknowledging the suffering of others.
–Suffering is accompanied with the blessing of the Spirit (v. 14). God gives you the strength to face the suffering AT THE TIME when you need it and not before. There is an implicit promise that this suffering is not the end, and even in the midst of suffering, we get a taste and fragrance of the paradise of God that is coming.
–Suffering is eschatological (v.7). You are encouraged by seeing the end in sight. THAT’S the character of how you are called to live as a Christian. To know that the end is coming.
–The glorious character of suffering’s outcome (v.13). The suffering of this life comes to an end. There’s an OVERJOY of the time of Christ’s coming. The rejoicing in suffering now is the first installment, and we have the anticipation of the final installment: a greatness of joy unmingled with pain and death.
How To Get Our Hearts To Appreciate Those Reasons
1. Trust God and His power and goodness (v.19). Those very basic things in which the lily of the field have ought to taught us, rather than a magic formula of “3 steps to holiness.” It’s that very basic call to trust the One whom we have no reason not to trust.
2. Participation in Christ’s sufferings (v.13). We’ll be learning to understand this better our whole lives. The pain of suffering, the struggle to believe in God in the horror of it all, gives us a little taste of the outer limits of that immense suffering that Christ was willing to endure for us.
“If God was wise and powerful enough to bring about, through the hands of wicked men, the salvation of the world through the crucifixion, the ugliest crime of human history…if God is wise like that, trust him with your own life. Trust him with your own suffering. And commit your soul to him by doing good.” – Dr. Vern Poythress