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)

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