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1 Peter 4:3-19
3 For the time that has passed was sufficient for you to do what the non-Christians desire. You lived then in debauchery, evil desires, drunkenness, carousing, drinking bouts, and wanton idolatries. 4 So they are astonished when you do not rush with them into the same flood of wickedness, and they vilify you. 5 They will face a reckoning before Jesus Christ who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 Now it was for this very purpose that the gospel was preached to those who are now dead, so that though they were judged in the flesh by human standards they may live spiritually by God’s standards. 7 For the culmination of all things is near. So be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of prayer. 8 Above all keep your love for one another fervent, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without complaining. 10 Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
12 Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or criminal or as a troublemaker. 16 But if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the ungodly and sinners? 19 So then let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator as they do good.
Suffering is so strange. When everything is going great we tend to be at great risk. We are content, but may find that our patterns of life lack gratitude and praise. It’s much easier to say, “I’m so grateful to have been able to pay all of my bills on time for the first time in years,” than it is to still pray, “Thank you, Lord, that we haven’t missed a payment in 64 months and counting.” Ease can pull us away from the space our heart needs to be but the moment we begin to suffer, if we have prepared to depend on the Lord, then we can find that God’s provision empowers our doing of good in our suffering.
As Peter writes his letter, the church is suffering mightily. Lives are being lost, and others are being destroyed. Yet, through all of this, the growth of the church could not be thwarted, in fact it was exploding! The comfortable, silent church that doesn’t have the power of testimonies of gratitude where it speaks to the active and living work of God is weak. The suffering, praising church that can point specifically to the times when the struggle was deep and yet God’s love was even deeper captures the hearts and minds of those who haven’t believed that they may believe.
Reflect/Discuss: Why do we avoid testifying and praising God in good seasons?
What are some difficult times God has carried you through?
Have you shared about those experiences with others?