WHAT! Can suffering be good? YES! Peter tells us so and why. Suffering for Christ is profitable. Suffering for our own sin is NOT.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you as though something strange were happening to you” (verse 12). Notice here that Peter said “when” not “if.” We WILL experience trials. We WILL experience suffering. It may not look anything like the persecution the first church encountered; being crucified, burned at the stake, or fed to the lions.
In the United States our sufferings will most likely come in the form of being ridiculed for having outdated values, or being passed over for a promotion because you put God above profit, or maybe even being excluded from a group because others think you are weird for talking about Jesus. So long as these things happen as a result of you living your life like Jesus did, you have a great reward waiting.
In other countries, including Jesus’ homeland, persecution is more pronounced. Standing for Christ can still cost you your life. I don’t doubt that it will be that way here in the US too someday. But one who truly loves God will still stand, regardless of the consequences. Even death cannot separate us from God’s love. In fact it frees us to experience it even fuller.
Other “fiery trials” happen in our daily walk that doesn’t lead to death. They are the day to day trials that we face in our lives that show our faith in God. These can be simple tests like, will you obey God’s command not to steal, to will you share a word for Him when He puts it in your spirit. Some of the more difficult ones might look like, will you go along with what the boss says or follow Jesus instead, or will you bend to the pressure of the world and engage in things you KNOW God says are sin.
ALL of these speak of where your walk with Him lives. Maybe that is why He “protected” me from becoming the counselor I trained to be by giving me a more excellent and important job to do. I would be faced with glossing over other’s sins every day. I might even be tasked with calling evil good and good evil in that role. I sometimes struggle with how to word the tough things here. I know we are His family but we don’t all hold the same view on MANY of the issues. And I don’t want to be a stumbling block to anyone. But I WON’T call evil good or good evil, just to keep some readers happy.
I guess those are my fiery trials. What are yours? How do you stand for God? We ALL have them, just like Peter said we would. And we all are judged by how we handle them; by man and by God. “For it is time for judgement to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (verse 17).
Don’t let anyone mislead you. You WILL be held accountable for the decisions you make in these instances. I don’t believe that they will cost you your salvation but they will have consequences. One of the immediate consequences will be how your witness for Him is impacted. I have heard, on more than one occasion, “If that is what Christians are like, I don’t want to have any part of it.” One person’s “witness” blocked another person’s opportunity to know Jesus. I don’t EVER want to be that block! Our decisions will also have eternal consequences. As one of my pastors used to say, “Yes, you might be saved but you will come through with only smoking buns because everything you did will burn up on entry.” Call me greedy; I WANT a reward from God! I want to hear Him say, “Well done good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in the small things, now come enjoy the good things I have prepared for you.” My “suffering” here is MORE than worth that reward! “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (verse 19).
Father God, I never thought about You protecting me before when it comes to the “profession” I’m in now. I often lamented the fact that I have gone through school many times and not used any of it in the job world. I used some of the first degree but the last two felt worthless. They weren’t! What I have learned is still valuable in what I do now. Thank You for the training without all the testing afterwards! I honestly don’t know how I would have handled those tests.
Thank You Holy Spirit that You meet me in my times of testing in the little things too. I know I failed the one last night in gluttony. I pray it didn’t have far reaching consequences in my witness for You. I know I was found out by more than just You. Forgive me Father for my sin. Help me stand up again and win the next battle round. I pray that the one who “caught” me won’t be hurt by my “witness.” I have a feeling he won’t even think twice about it as they are into the cupboards ALL DAY LONG! Don’t let me judge them either Lord for their hunger. They are just children. More than anything though Holy Spirit, help my life be a witness for You in all I do, especially in front of them. I want them to see Jesus in all I do. They need to see You!