This Weeks Passage and Memory Verse (in red): 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
So the most intriguing phrase in this passage to me is found in verse 10 where Peter says “after you have suffered a little while.” It sounds to me that God could pull the plug, so to speak, on the suffering we go through at any time BUT He is waiting a little while to do so. Why?
It would seem that God has a purpose for suffering. Now this doesn’t much make sense to us because we despise it so much. But to God it is all a part of the big picture. This passage does not so much address the why of suffering as it does the what to do while you are suffering. It assumes that we understand why suffering takes place because of what Peter has said in chapter 1 of this epistle. So what to do while we are going through times of suffering:
Humble yourselves – The best way to do this he says is by “casting all your cares upon Him.” v 7. Suffering has a way of bringing us to our knees, of driving us to complete dependence upon God. We realize that when we are going through trials and difficulties that we cannot fix things on our own. And lets face it – we like to fix things. We like to fix our messes. We like to think that we are in control and so we like to take control of our own lives and prove to ourselves that we can handle anything. But the fact of the matter is that we CANNOT. We need God. Suffering has a way of reminding us of this. And when we are willing to lay aside our pride and acknowledge that God is in control (and that we are not) by throwing everything in His lap and essentially saying ” God You fix this mess, I realize that I can’t”, then God can begin to shape us mold us for His purposes.
Be alert – Suffering is the perfect time for the evil one to try to wedge his way into our lives. It is a time when he says to us ” Look, this God you say you serve doesn’t really care about you. If He did He wouldn’t let you go through what you are going through.” So especially during suffering we need to be reminded that we are in a war. And the only way to survive the war is to rely on our commanding officer. So do not be at all surprised if you feel under attack when times are tough – because you are. So…
Resist the enemy – How? Run to the Word and not away from it. Cling to the cross gratefully. Rally the troops around you and let them help protect you. Just as you need God you also need your comrades to stand with you and to help sustain you. Again our tendency is to try to get through things without anyone else’s help, but one reason that God designed the church is so that we can fight together the fight of faith.
Rest in God’s grace – Never forget that the God who rescued you from sin and raised you from life to death also has a future in store for you that is literally “out of this world.” What you are going through is temporary; what He has in mind for you is eternal. What you go through during times of suffering reveals your weakness; He wants to use these times to empower you with His strength. So rest in His amazing grace. Rest in the joy of your salvation. Rest in the comfort that God IS in control even when things seem out of control. Rest in the hope that one day all will be made right.
I’m just sayin’!
Next Week’s Passage: Philippians 1:20-26
Next Week’s Memory Verse: Philippians 1:21