1 Peter 4:12-19, Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

Suffering is suffering; pain is pain. Neither are desirable. Yet, commitment to God means the person will escape neither. The enormous war in which Satan attacks God will continuously rage throughout your earthly lifetime. Each time temptation assaults you, you are the battlefield. Committing to God’s values guarantees you Satan will cause you suffering and pain at every opportunity.

He or she who dares to give life to God lives in “the tension.” “The tension” pulls us between the attractions, the pleasures, or the promises of physical well-being and the investment of physical existence in God’s values. Understanding “the tension” is relatively simple. Do we invest in physical existence, or do we invest in eternal existence?

Through suffering and pain God created our Savior. Through suffering and pain God saves us. It should not be surprising that the things which cause God’s rejoicing cause Satan’s rage. The person daring to live for God’s values dares to enrage Satan.

We should be comforted by understanding this always has been true among God’s people. The first Christians knew “the tension.” Peter told them three things. (1) Rejoice when you suffer for God’s values. (2) Never have reason to suffer for Satan’s values. (3) Never be ashamed to suffer for God’s values.

The issue is never, “Will I suffer?” Our choice is not this: to suffer or not to suffer. As a Christian, our choice is this: “With what attitude will I suffer?”

The most common statement I hear from Christian sufferers is, “It is just not fair!” Belonging to God has never been about “what is fair.” It always has been about grace. Grace saves us, and we are saved to reflect grace.

Hebrews 11:13-16, All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. …But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 4 October 2007

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