I Peter 4:12-16 New King James Version (NKJV)
Suffering for God’s Glory
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.
16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
No one fully escapes suffering. As God, Jesus didn't.
--His saints are not immune from ills, accidents, sorrow. We are born in a degree of pain, and die so.
--"Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed (or afraid), but let him glorify God in this matter" (I Peter 4:16). We need God's grace!
We served a church 12 1/2 years near Selfridge AFB, MI.
--We had many Air Force personnel as loyal members.
--One was Capt. and Mrs. Charles Tabor, and three sons.
--Fine, faithful family. Boys in church and Scouts.
--He was a jet fighter pilot, protecting our land.
--One day his plane engine failed; it took his life.
--Rather than crash among homes, he chose the lake.
--His wife never remarried. Worked, raised the boys.
--We've kept in touch, at Christmas, for many years.
--Got permission for her as an example of one who has triumphed over all manner of suffering, in Christ!
I Peter 4 begins, "Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind." Expect some.
--He suffered, as we do - but on a cross for us.
--So God says, "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you" (12).
--It is not "some strange thing," but common to all.
--Rather, "Rejoice .. that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy" (13).
--"But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody..." (15). For wrong.
--Endeavor to avoid things which may cause suffering.
Many have questions, let's look for God's answers.
--Some suffering is in the will of God - as was Jesus.
--As was Paul, "a chosen vessel for God" (Acts 9:14).
--I Peter 4 ends "who suffer according to" God's will.
I. SO WHY IS THERE SUFFERING? I AM OFTEN ASKED THIS.
--When God made the world, He did not put pain in it.
--He put man in a perfect paradise. But Satan came!
--Did you know the devil is behind most of our pains?
You recall Adam and Eve, in paradise, in Genesis 3.
--All was perfect in the presence of God for awhile.
--But Satan tempted them, disobedience brought pain.
--Cast out of Eden, and suffering began, from evil.
Only in heaven will there be "no suffering, sorrow or pain" (Rev. 21:4). Until then, try to prevent such. Let us be spiritually ready, when suffering comes.
--"As a Christian let (us) not be ashamed (or afraid) but .. glorify God in this matter" (I Peter 4:16).
--Sooner or later we learn there are various reasons, when we suffer; not all, but some are from Satan.
--That's why you and I need Jesus, and His Spirit!
--For those "born again" in Him, He promises heaven.
--The unsaved, and ungodly, go to a different place.
--Our destiny is determined by what we do with Jesus!
II. WHY DO THE INNOCENT SUFFER? EVER WONDERED?
--It is all part of the ways of life in our world.
--If a plane falls, the innocents come down as well.
--In floods or fires or drouths, it includes us all.
--"It rains on the just and the unjust," Jesus said.
--So some suffering will come to us all, at times.
Jesus the most innocent of all, suffered the most.
How unjust that Hitler took lives of millions of Jews.
--Or Stalin. Or Sadam Hussein. Took thousands more.
--Or when Jesus born, wicked Herod took many babies.
--Or abortions, or murders. Drunk Drivers take many.
--There's no addiction, habit or sin God can't heal!
--No sorrow or situation God cannot comfort, control.
--Turn your pains and tears over to a powerful God!
I remember a beautiful 6-year old girl, who was ill.
--She bravely fought leukemia, suffering so long.
--Many prayed. Fasted. Doctors all worked so hard.
--But she died. So precious. So sad. God comforts!
Do you recall Joseph, Jacob's eleventh son in Genesis?
--His brothers jealous. Mistreated, and sold Joseph.
--How Joseph suffered, Falsely accused. Imprisoned!
--But kept himself pure, his faith strong in God.
--In the end, Joseph was abundantly blessed.
--Joseph said, "You meant evil, God meant it for good."
--He lived so that "all worked together for good."
We watched 9/11/01 as thousands suffered, innocently.
--Many asked, Why?" We all know why! Terrorists!
--Ignorance. Jealousy, hatred, enmity, by a few.
--People who have the wrong idea of a loving God.
--Who forget the generosity America has shown them.
--Who were welcomed to our land and given freedoms.
--But people who return evil, for good; hate for love.
--Who do not really know the Lord of Peace, for all!
--Who do not know, "What we sow, we shall reap."
So many innocent suffer. Job is an example of that.
--God said of Job, "Good, and upright," a godly man.
--But Satan tested Job. Tests that God allowed.
--Job lost all ten children. Lost his possessions.
--Lost his health. Lost his wife's comfort.
--But he did not lose his faith in the one true God!
--In the end, Job was a better man. Double blessed.
Above all, Jesus came without sin, to die on a cross for all we guilty ones - a debt He did not owe, and a debt we could not pay - Jesus paid willingly.
--He gives forgiveness, salvation, and courage to us.
--He promises to His own, "I will never leave you."
III. DOES GOD CAUSE SUFFERING? NO, GOD DOES NOT.
--God may allow it - as for Jesus and Job - He doesn't cause suffering. He is a loving Heavenly Father.
--What godly parent wisely causes pain for children?
--If godly parents would not, surely God wouldn't!
God does not give disease - God heals them! Many!
--Like Jesus did for many on earth, as our God.
--Jesus "healed all manner of disease." Still does!
--As God, would Jesus heal what His Father caused?
--They are One! They want to heal, not cause, pain!
Friend, God may allow trials for us, for suffering is able to teach us what we cannot learn any other way.
In Luke 13:5, Jesus said, "Were the Galileans worse sinners .. or those on whom the tower of Siloam fell?"
Suffering and troubles come from various causes - not from a holy, loving God - and, ofttimes from Satan.
--How do we know? Jesus says so in Luke 13:16.
--A woman "Satan had bound eighteen years" in pain.
--Jesus healed her! God restores what Satan causes!
--Or, take the man born blind, "Who sinned?" (John 9).
--"Neither this man or his parents that he was born blind." Jesus said, "Neither" caused it. So why?
--"For the glory of God." That God may be glorified!
--Praise God Who is able to work His amazing grace!
IV. WHY DOES AN ALMIGHTY GOD THEN ALLOW SUFFERING?
--People ask, If God is Almighty, why allow us pain?
--Let us remember that pain has some good purpose.
--It helps doctors locate where one hurts, to heal.
--It draws us back from harm, and avoid temptations.
--Had Jesus not suffered on a cross, no salvation!
David said, "Before I was afflicted, I went astray."
--It brought David, and many others, to the Lord.
Thomas Chisholm was born in a log cabin in 1866, and all his life was met with health problems, troubles, and disappointments, which brought him to Jesus!
--His life was a model of Christ-likeness to many.
--Had to give up different ministries, but Chisholm's legacy was the hymns he wrote, we love to sing.
--He wrote "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" and "0 To Be Like Thee," and others. His life glorified God.
--He was thankful for all things - even suffering!
Suffering gives one compassion, kindness, patience.
--When rightly understood, makes us a better person.
--To await the day when troubles and trials no more.
V. WHY DID JESUS SUFFER FOR US, INSTEAD OF US?
--Because our Lord and Savior loves us so! All of us.
--There was no other good enough - able or willing!
--Had He not been willing to suffer - no salvation.
--Where else in the world do we find a love as His?
Praise God, suffering and trials are not forever, but our salvation in Him, is forever! Do you have it?
--Relief is in belief .. repentance and deliverance.
--In trusting Jesus!
Wilbert D. Gough, ThD., DD. 863