None of us want to hear it, experience it or talk about it. But the truth is, everyone of us hears it, experiences it and talks about it. Think about your last conversation with someone. I’m sure in the midst of that conversation of catching up, some form of suffering was brought up within that time. Whether it was about your suffering or someone else’s, suffering is something that each and everyone one of us hate.
As a follower of Jesus, I have been raised to know that suffering is a part of our walk with Christ. All the scripture we read, the church services we attend and the prayers we offer up are to equip us when the days of suffering come. However, all of that does not ward off suffering. Suffering does not pick and choose who it affects, it just happens.
When I think of suffering in Scripture, I think of many men and women that endured a lot of suffering but one man was not on my radar until I came across this passage in 1 Peter,
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.”
1 Peter 12: 12-13
When I read those verses, my first response is to say “Who are you Peter that you tell me to not be surprised?”
Our first response when suffering comes is to be surprised. We are caught off guard, unprepared and in disbelief. So, why does Peter tell us to not be surprised?
Peter starts his journey as a man chasing after Christ upon meeting him. Peter walked with Jesus on a daily basis, saw Jesus perform miracles right before his eyes but yet, he still denied Christ. He still had a faith shaking experience even after seeing Jesus. However, his message to us was to not be surprised when sufferings come. Not simply that sufferings were going to come, but that when they come do not be surprised. As Christians, our response to situations should be vastly different than that of the world. However, it is easy to say that when we aren’t going through a struggle ourselves.
How can we not be surprised when suffering knocks on our door?
I know when I found out I was having a miscarriage, surprised is the feeling that rushed over me. However, I went back to what I knew about God to be true. I have watched God work in the lives of those around me through suffering. I never thought I was going to struggle with pregnancy but isn’t the art of suffering the same for all of us? Not matter the suffering, we all have the same choice to make.
- Are we going to let our suffering surprise us?
- Or, are we going to choose to let God surprise us?
God can surprise us through our suffering and create something amazing out of a time when amazing seems so far away.
Are we going to let Him?
We need to look past the first few words in 1 Peter 12:12-13,
“…but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.”
You see we could never share in a suffering so great that it surpasses the degree of sufferings our Christ endured for us. Because of that, we should keep rejoicing! For the same Jesus that conquered death itself and shared in far more sufferings is on our side! He is fighting for us in the suffering and giving us strength to help us through it.
So like Peter, let us allow God to surprise us as we rejoice in knowing He endured it all so that we can endure it with Him.
God’s surprises have an eternal reward.