I was reading this morning in 1 Peter and came across these two verses.
“For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” (1 Peter 3:17, ESV)
“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” (1 Peter 4:19, ESV)
Peter seems to imply that there my be times when suffering IS included in God’s plan for us. Not only does this sound wrong, there are many within the Christian community that teach and believe that this would never happen. But, they do this in contradiction to what the Bible plainly says. This is an inconvenient truth. We have to deal with the reality of what God says in His word, rather than trying to make it say something that it does not.
While there may be times in our lives were we live in fear that suffering may come into our lives, we should remember that God is fully aware of all that is taking place around us. There is nothing that escapes God’s observing eyes. If we believe in God’s love; if we believe in God’s grace; if we believe that God will work all things out for our good, then we have be careful not to make every experience of suffering into a time to complain and gripe and doubt God’s plan. If and when we suffer, we must make sure that we suffer justly. The fact that we do not suffer more is the true miracle if God’s love.
The question that took shape this afternoon was this:
Can I worship God if the suffering I
endure IS because of something in God’s plan which
God has chosen not to reveal to me?
When we think about what is happening around us it can be so easy to lose sight of the greatness and grandness of God. But, suffering has a way of adjusting our focus. If suffering happens outside of God’s will then we have no reason to fear. God will see us through. So, what do we do when we are confronted with the possibility, and according the Peter, the actuality that suffering is a part of God’s plans? Will we retreat from what the Bible says, or will we allow God to shape our view of the world? Because suffering has such a powerful effect on us, we are confronted with the varied array of assumptions that we may have made about how God works in the world. Assumptions that must be changed if we are going to live in obedience to God and His Word.
The challenge that Peter sets before us is this: when we find ourselves suffering from the concussion that suffering inflicts on our lives and heart, will we be able to “entrust their souls to a faithful Creator?” A faithful Creator. God’s faithfulness toward us should never be called into question. As pilgrims on the journey of faith, we need to trust that God’s view of the events and circumstances of history are controlled and guarded against sabotage by His sovereign reign.
I came across this song some months ago and I found that it captures, in a powerful way, what Peter is communicating here in his letter.
You can hear Laura Story tell the story behind the song here.