Suffering is a normal experience for God’s people. Read through First Peter and hear him urging Christians not to be shocked at the ‘painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.’ (1 Peter 4:12) Too often, our untrained, unChrist-centred minds jump to conclusions and we lose perspective.
As this letter draws to a close, Peter assures the suffering people of God that God Himself is committed to them. Earlier, they are urged to commit themselves to God in a deliberate act of surrender, but they should also be comforted to know God is making a purposeful commitment to them.
“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. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10-11)
God is the God of all grace. What ‘type’ of grace do you need from His hand this day? Saving grace? It is by grace we have been saved through faith – Ephesians 2:8-10. Sustaining grace? 2 Corinthians 11 and 12 tracks Paul’s experience of this despite a lengthy accounting of dark days. Serving grace? Elsewhere I have written about spiritual gifts and in chapter 4 of this same book Christ-followers are spoken of as ‘faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.’
Grace, as Reinke’s useful book (John Newton on the Christian Life) affirms is not a ‘thing.’ It is God’s resources made available to us through the one Mediator, Jesus, who is called the Christ. (At Live Life! International – my other blog I’ve been posting some reflections and quotes in some posts.)
What has God done for His children?
1) called them – We are reminded of Peter’s introduction where He writes to ‘God’s elect,’ those God has selected for His eternal purposes through the distinct engagement of each person of the Trinity.
2) allowed you to suffer – There’s no shortcut in this plan. Why don’t the false teachers of prosperity and ‘riches and health as evidence of right standing with God’ preachers READ this text? “…after you have suffered a little while.” Now, speaking from experience, I find I need God’s help in measuring ‘a little while.’ Short in comparison with eternity, but some trials are lifelong!
What will God do?
Peter, as an encouraging pastoral leader (after all he is a ‘fellow elder’ 5:1), now holds out hope for these sufferers. God directly ministers to these saints. God will HIMSELF, in His marvelous way, restore, make you strong, firm and steadfast. God will see you through. God is able. God has not abandoned us, despite the whisperings of ‘our adversary.’ No, a thousand times no! He is for us…and ‘if God be for us….WHO can be against us?, Paul queries elsewhere.
It’s time to thank Him. “To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
I don’t like being weak. My energy is limited, my patience finite. Those who observe my life on the outside may view it as ‘charmed’ but noone knows the struggles of the heart. I take comfort in this incredible benediction penned by a leader who knew his share of suffering. In Acts 12 Peter experienced God’s deliverance out of prison in a remarkable ‘jail-breaking’ account, yet he will end his life crucified. All healing, all deliverance is temporary until that day when God himself will be our God. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Until that day it may be time to sing this old gospel song –
My heart can sing when I pause to remember
A heartache here is but a stepping stone
Along a path that’s always winding upward
This troubled world is not my final home
But until then my heart will go on singing
Until then with joy I’ll carry on
Until the day my eyes behold that city
Until the day God calls me home
The things of earth will dim and lose their value
If we recall they’re borrowed for awhile
And things of earth that cause this heart to tremble
Remembered there will only bring a smile