The joy of suffering (1 Peter 4)

Physical suffering for Christ puts things into a radical new perspective, enabling the sufferer to experience new heights of joy in Christ, discovering as Nehemiah proclaimed, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. 4.1

You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. 4.2

Exactly!

Another thought that struck me is Peter’s exhortation about our prayers – urging us to be “earnest and disciplined” in them. (NLT) The NIV says it this way, “Be clear minded and self controlled so that you can pray.” I’ve not considered that prayer is something to be disciplined about. Rather, I’ve always thought it to be the “want-to” conversation with God.

Discipline in prayer seems to hint that there will be times – most times!? – when will alone determines whether you pray or not. We will not always feel like praying. Discipline suggests that I determine to pray even when my heart is not in it. There is something powerful about forcing yourself to bow before God even when you don’t feel submissive. He is King, after all, and all kings have the authority to summon any subject before them at any time. Let us not forget that He may desire our presence before Him more than we desire His.
Going back to the clarifying blessing of suffering…

So be happy when you are insulted for the name of Christ, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 4.13
…these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to the world. 4.13
So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you. 4.19

Related posts:
Praying for those who suffer (the persecuted church)

On this day...

7 comments

  1. Mark W. says:
    It seems to me that blurkers should be commenting to you more on your Peter studies posts. After all, these are the important ones, so let’s get a convo going guys!

    Question: Isn’t this passage something that, in the past, has led to worship practices like self-flagellation and the wearing of “cilice” belts (like the monk wore on his thigh in The Da Vinci Code)???
    Most Christians that I know don’t purposefully hurt themselves physically, but I know a lot of people who (consciously or not) allow themselves to suffer unnecessarily because they feel that “as sinners” they deserve it, and they use their suffering as a sort of reminder (prayer) to trust in Christ. When, exactly, does their suffering go from “disciplined obedience” to “selfish suffering” or even masochism? Also, is this addressed in other scriptures too? πŸ™‚

  2. K.T. says:
    Monticello Live has gotten quite controversial.who knew?
  3. Mark W. says:
    Okay – so there will be no convo if you’re on a trip…it’s the thought that counts, I guess. Later.
  4. Marylee Noble says:
    Thanks for the insight about the discipline required for our prayer life to be healthy and active. (Guess I should thank Peter too.)

    Mom

  5. i guess i had never thought about the suffering part, i have however thought about the praying part. this is something that is really hard for me to do. so thank you for opening my mind to this.
  6. Jeff says:
    I’m not on a trip, Mark, just hoping that others will respond before I do… I’ve been working all day with Rick Hales and will do so again tomorrow, so will be out of pocket. Let’s hope there are some good responses to this?

    K.T., I don’t see it as controversial but quite healthy. Traditional media and leadership are not used to the “blog world” where real people can have immediate input. We’ve relied for years on a “Letters to the Editor” approach, and even then, papers tend to pick and choose what’s published.

    Elected officials shrug off complaints, thinking that they come from just a few, not realizing that many people refrain from voicing their opinions or thoughts because they feel like it doesn’t matter.

    Blogs have given the people back their voice. It will continue to happen on ML. I am excited about a lively, healthy, continuing discussion about community events, city leadership, and issues. It can only make our town better.

    Thanks for your continued participation!

    Perhaps someone would be willing to write these ideas up as a post for ML?

  7. TJ says:
    In focusing on how Christians should not suffer, unfortunately many who I rub shoulders with “doctrinally” miss out on the beauty of the strength that comes from enduring pain for a season. If a child of God wasn’t supposed to be able to suffer, then why would weeping even endure for a night before Joy came in the morning? (ps 30:5) There’s power and strength that comes spiritually when our flesh endures suffering. More of Him, Less of me!

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