Christ Cuts Short Our Suffering
At the risk of sounding whiny, I'll just go ahead and say it: suffering is hard. The furnace only heats up as a Christian. Far from being an escape route from the fire, following Christ is a ticket to jump into the flames, and that can be scary. But Peter speaks great hope into our difficulties in 1 Peter 5, particularly those that are a result of being a Christian.
God Cares for Us
Peter tells us to humble ourselves under God's mighty hand in the midst of our suffering so He may exalt us at the proper time (v. 6). Peter knows this humbling will be scary because we will be putting all our trust in the Lord, refusing to give in to the "I'll take care of myself" mentality. So, he reminds us that God cares for us and urges us to cast our cares on our loving Father (v. 7). What a privilege!
This hasn't been easy for me lately. There are anxieties I've been trusting the Lord with for almost fifteen years, and as far as I can see, there's no resolution in sight. I'm tempted to work myself up into a worried frenzy, finding some way to get what I want.
You're Not Alone
The enemy capitalizes on these types of vulnerabilities in the midst of our sufferings. Peter is all too aware of this and warns us in verse eight:
"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."
We can stand and be watchful because we're not by ourselves. Each of us has our own appointed cup of suffering to drink in this life for the sake of the gospel. Yet we don't sip from the cup alone. Our older Brother, Jesus, has tasted the bitterest cup there is and strengthens us to hold the cup up for our fellow brothers and sisters as they struggle to swallow with faith.
God's Promises to Us
With each sip, we have an incredible, unseen promise that this bitter taste is producing something better than the sweetest feast we could imagine. Verse ten assures us that this suffering is only a little while when compared to eternity. There will be an end to it:
"After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."
Because we are in Christ, God promises that He will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us in eternal glory. The ESV Study Bible points out that those four verbs are there to remind us that God will eventually bring back everything we've lost (and then some!) for the sake of Christ.
God has spoken and hasn't left us to wonder what will become of us. And what He speaks, He always accomplishes. There's coming a day when the sweetness of His promises come true is all we'll ever taste. All bitter suffering will be gone. Hallelujah!
Written by Lindsay Swartz
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