Verse: 1 Peter 2:21-23
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
Series: 1 Peter
I really enjoy being comfortable. Not in the sense of laziness or apathy, just in the more common meaning of feeling cozy, relaxed, and at peace. I love it.
You know what I don’t love? Suffering. It’s the opposite of what I naturally want. But in 2019, I went through a whole lot of suffering, and as you might know, suffering isn’t fun.
We’d recently bought our new house, and carried 2 mortgages for 6 months, while preparing both houses. I self soothed by eating Wendy’s every night after working on the old house.
My business had one of its worst years financially.
We ate up a big chunk of savings.
One of our bathrooms flooded half our new house.
We were constantly sick.
Our youngest kids weren’t sleeping very well and we were sleep deprived. Our wonderful dog died.
I felt anxious and unprepared.
I had brain fog and couldn’t concentrate.
With everything going on, I simultaneously felt awful about 3 important pillars of who I want to be: a great husband, father, and provider.
Real suffering makes you feel weak, pathetic, maybe even hopeless and jaded. It pokes at the parts of your character that are most important to you. Given the choice, I probably wouldn’t choose suffering, certainly not as much of it all at once. Would you?
Jesus shows us examples of himself dealing with suffering so that we know what to do and can hopefully address and deal with suffering appropriately. In this Bible verse, Jesus is dealing with unjust suffering at the hands of bad people, but he suffers in other ways as an example for us too.
Was Jesus super stoked to go through his death by crucifixion? Obviously not, the Bible says he was sweating like crazy the night beforehand while praying for God’s will to be done. Did he love that his friend Judas backstabbed him? Was it awesome that his friend Lazarus died before he could see him?
It’s not that we want suffering. It’s that suffering is unavoidable sometimes, so that God’s will can be done. And sometimes suffering is just random bad things happening to you because the universe is crappy sometimes. No matter the reason, you can manage it and be a better person by following Jesus’s example.
One particular outcome of suffering that Jesus models for us is the process of being perfected. Jesus of course was already perfect, but the example he sets is that by going through the crucible of suffering, we come out the other side stronger, more capable, and hopefully more malleable to following God.
For me, 2019 challenged my faith in ways I never would have challenged myself in. I love comfort too much to choose the suffering we went through. And now? I’m perfect and life is great.
Really, through the suffering of 2019, I learned a few specific things that I hadn’t properly learned: trust in God instead of myself, share my burdens with others, and make time to rest. All Biblical principles I had overlooked for years.
So if you’ve been suffering, use Jesus as an example, and come out the other side a little more perfect.
Maybe your suffering is unjust, and you don’t deserve it. Maybe you can’t find any deep meaning for the suffering you’re going through. And maybe you’re not going to come out on some spiritual mountaintop after you’re done.
But that doesn’t mean that the suffering has to be worthless either. Use it as a chance to deepen your faith by trusting in God more. Use it to refocus that your hope is in God, not in the state of your environment or the world. Use it to personally reflect and grow in wisdom.
God, help me to see clearly how I can be perfected in the suffering I’m going through right now.
Author: Jordan Ambra