How do You Handle Suffering?

So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.
1 Peter 4:19, NLT*

Peter’s writing to Christians who are being persecuted for their faith, reminding them that this can go with the territory. He says there’s no value in suffering for doing wrong, but if they hold up under attacks on their faith, it’s pleasing to God and it may help others see the truth.

The context is persecution, but I think it applies to any form of suffering that we don’t deserve. Peter does warn them there’s no value in suffering as a criminal, etc.

Christians are risking – and losing – their lives for Jesus in parts of the world today, and it’s horrible. Here in North America, the most “suffering” we do for our faith is putting up with snide comments, misunderstanding, and a culture bent on denying our God.

But we’ll all face other forms of suffering, too. Sickness, financial crises, broken relationships, worry… it’s a long list. How do we handle these things as Christians, in a way that shows others who God is?

Peter says we’re to “keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you.”

What’s our confidence to do this? “He will never fail you.”

That means we guard our words and our actions, and keep our attitudes pure before God, because we trust Him. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”

It means we repeatedly choose to trust God instead of giving in to the fear and the pain. It means we make time to care for the person beside us in the hospital waiting room. (Sometimes I think God allows us to end up in those places just because there’s someone else there He wants to reach.)

It means… even when we “deserve” some self-pity, we need to ask God how He wants to use the situation.

And it means “if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it (1 Peter 3:15)”. Gently, not pushy. Tell the story of how He’s made a difference and strengthened us to endure.

It’s all about Jesus, and we sort of forget that in our daily routines.

Mighty and loving God, You saved us and called us to live for Your glory. Help us learn to walk with You each moment, living in response to You instead of reacting to our circumstances. Show us how to live in our relationships and our responsibilities with hearts turned to You and with spirits depending on You. Give us faith to know that You will never fail us.

A good song to keep us focused on the Lord’s care is “Your Faithfulness,” by Brian Doerksen.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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