Verse: 1 Peter 4:12-13
12 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. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
In this passage, Peter is helping those early believers to expect some suffering due to their choice to follow the way of Jesus. He’s not telling them what to do about “those people” who are saying and doing things to them; he wants them to focus on their own response to what is happening. In short it sounds like he’s saying, no need to act shocked, just take it in stride like Jesus did. You can even rejoice because you’re thinking about the end game when Jesus returns and you get to see him in all his glory.
This reminds me of the verse about Jesus in Hebrews 12 that says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” It’s easy to grow weary and lose heart. But knowing to expect some hardship makes it a little easier to not feel disillusioned by it. And drawing strength from Jesus, who walked through intense hardship and suffering, makes it possible to even rejoice in the midst of hardship because we’re not just focused on the hard of now, but on the good of what is coming.
Let’s end by talking a little about our responses to people. We don’t get to control what people think or say about us or our faith. We don’t control other people’s beliefs and opinions. But we do get to control how we respond to whatever we see as “suffering” because of our faith. Jesus showed us the way to respond to hardship, suffering, persecution, all of it. He said to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, and then he did just that. When he was accused he didn’t even defend himself, because he had nothing to prove. What a profoundly loving and hopeful way he paved for us.
Jesus I want to believe that I have the ability, through your Spirit in me, to respond to hardship and persecution of any kind like You did. Help me to stay focused on you so that I don’t grow weary and lose heart.
Author: Christine Robinson