It’s not much fun talking about suffering, but let’s be honest . . . suffering’s a big part of our lives.
In some Christian circles, people are discouraged from acknowledging pain or suffering. I guess there’s this idea that suffering somehow invalidates the Cross’s power, so people feel pressured to always act like everything is just peachy.
Here’s the thing though—this outlook is neither biblical or helpful. In fact, Scripture dignifies suffering and tells us to find joy in it because suffering’s a vital part of discovering our new life in Christ.
It’s important, however, to remember that God is not the One inflicting the suffering (see James 1:12–18). But He will use the brokenness and imperfections of our world to do a perfect work in us. What the enemy of our soul means to tear us down, God uses to reveal our True Life in Him.
I love what Peter writes in the fifth chapter of his first letter,
And 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. (v. 10 ESV)
First of all, I want to point out that Peter writes “suffered a little while.” In other words, as a child of God, your suffering has an end date. Your pain will expire. It may be hard to believe at times, but your deliverance is running toward you, getting closer with every sunrise. And as you journey through the fire of suffering, the God of all grace has promised that His grace is sufficient for you. When you lean into His grace, He promises to overwhelm your weakness with His power.
If you take another glance at 1 Peter 5:10, you’ll notice there are four promises that offer perspective in the fire. Perspective that can and will redefine your suffering:
- RESTORE – The promise that nothing will be lost in the pain. Anything the enemy “steals” will be returned with interest. It may feel like something is out of reach, but nothing is beyond God. Notice that Peter writes “God himself will . . .” In other words, God will take it upon Himself to do the impossible by restoring what seems beyond restoration.
- CONFIRM – The promise that you will be validated. The suffering will only confirm that you are a child of God and reveal your True Self in Him. What the enemy uses to put a question mark on your life, God turns into an exclamation point. Truth will always have the last say, so when you feel like your identity and purpose have been undermined, stand on the promise that what God says about you will be the final word.
- STRENGTHEN – The promise that the suffering will not kill you—it will only make you stronger and position you for the challenges ahead. You, my friend, are called to go from glory to glory and strength to strength, and the fire is a pathway of growth. God uses our temporal struggles to wield eternal strength and fortitude in us.
- ESTABLISH – The promise that the hardship will position you for ruler ship. It reveals your royal new nature in Christ. When Paul writes that we are seated in heavenly places, he is alluding to an eternal ruler ship that invades the present and reshapes our lives here and now. As sons and daughters, God is preparing us for eternal glory and stewardship.
Everything in life is about perspective—that’s why an awareness of these four promises is so crucial. In my own trials and pain, I’ve found that deliverance doesn’t necessarily come from a change in my surroundings (although that’s what I tend to pray for), it comes from a change in perspective.
God promises us a peace that transcends the evidence at hand (see Philippians 4). This peace doesn’t come from quick fixes and easy answers; it comes from being in sync with the One who has all the answers. It flows from a confidence in God’s promises and the assurance that the One who began a good work in you will see it to completion.
When you go through the fire, I challenge you to welcome the peace that comes with an awareness of these four promises. As you do, you’ll have eyes to see God’s faithfulness in the midst of the pain.
Please take a minute to encourage our other readers by leaving a comment on how you’ve seen these four promises animated in your suffering. Also, we’d love to pray for you . . . how can we stand with you as you’re navigating the pain of the process?
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2–4 ESV)