Avoiding the Unavoidable

“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” —1 Peter 4:16 (ESV) 
Go no further, I know what you’re thinking, there’s that word again. Oh you know, the word that no one ever wants to hear or even worse . . . experience! Yeah, you know, the one we all try to avoid like the plague. This word I speak of, can you guess it? Suffering.
I’ve been trying to avoid this phenomenon my whole life! I’ve never met anyone who looks at suffering in the face and says, “Come and get me!” Even Jesus, the only perfect person, did not desire suffering. It just wouldn’t be normal if someone did; it was never designed to be desired. But no matter how hard you try to avoid suffering, it’ll eventually catch you by surprise. The way Peter begins this section of Scripture is so good. It reads, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12 ESV).
See, even Peter uses the word surprised, and he emphasizes that we shouldn’t consider it “something strange.” We should have expected it. More importantly, we should have planned for it, rather than avoided it. Suffering is unavoidable. What Christ desires for us is not to be free of suffering, but to respond appropriately to it. What Peter declares in this passage is our freedom in the midst of suffering; he proclaims to not be ashamed, but rather to glorify God!
Sounds like I’m just plain crazy, right?! But let me explain. As believers, we are designed to suffer in order to share in the suffering of Christ. If we aren’t suffering, it indicates we are missing out on something God wants to share with us. Therefore, our response to suffering isn’t shame—although people try to push this onto us—but rather rejoicing and glorifying God for He says we are blessed if we suffer for the name of Christ (4:14).
So, for all of you sufferers out there, take courage and believe that God considers you blessed if you are suffering, for you are His child and you have the privilege of sharing with Christ in suffering, in order to one day partake in the glory of His return!
DIG: Are you trying to avoid suffering in your life? How has that worked out for you?
DISCOVER: Why do you think God is calling you to suffer by glorifying Him, rather than being ashamed or angry?
DISPLAY: How can you show others that you rejoice in God even though you’re suffering?

About the Author

Joel DeSousa