Joyful Suffering

Read: 1 Peter 4:12-19

Do not be surprised at the fiery trial. (v. 12)

I have yet to suffer for following Jesus, but I have met people who have. One man told me how his fingernails were pulled out because he confessed to becoming a Christian. I can hardly begin to imagine the pain. And yet, like so many I know, his face displayed an unfathomable joy. I saw in him the instruction Peter gave in verse 13, “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings.”

In just eight verses, Peter provided as helpful a theology of suffering as we find anywhere in Scripture. He prepared believers for what is coming. First, they should not be surprised (v. 12). To the contrary, they should rejoice (v. 13), which fits with James 1:2, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials.” Insults were counted as blessings (v. 14). Perhaps Peter remembered the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are you when others revile you” (Matt. 5:11). Even more so, somehow suffering endured for following Jesus was “according to God’s will” (1 Peter 4:19). That’s challenging! Yet, this was even true of the cross Christ bore. Isaiah 53:10 prophesied, “It was the will of the Lord to crush him.”

The time between our conversion to Christ and our inheritance in glory is not one of guaranteed and unending bliss. There will be trials. If it has not yet come to you, thank God, and pray for those to whom it is given to suffer. Let us stand with them in prayer. —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, ask God to remember those who suffer.

About the Author

jon opgenorth

Rev. Jon Opgenorth serves as president of Words of Hope. Previously, he served for 18 years as senior pastor at Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. In preparation for ministry, he received a BA in Religion from Northwestern College, and an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary.