"Don't Be Surprised"
1 Peter 4:12-13; 5:6-10 - 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. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. ... Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 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.
In the early days of my family's ministry with the Vietnamese, I had a silly idea in the back of my head. We kept dealing with disaster after disaster—illnesses, car accidents, fights in the church, funding problems—and I kept saying to myself, "Next week will be better. Next month, everything will go smoothly, the way it's supposed to go!"
After about twenty years, I finally caught on. This—a life full of trouble and suffering—is normal ministry, not something strange or unusual. We live in a world broken by sin and oppressed by the work of the devil, and really, how could it be any other way? Jesus hasn't come back in glory yet. And in the meantime, we suffer.
But it's not all bad news. Even though nobody wants to suffer, God can bring good out of it. Peter tells us that God uses our suffering the same way that fire tests the purity of gold and lets the goldsmith get rid of the dross. When we suffer, we are in Jesus' hands; and He will not let us be destroyed. No, He will use the suffering to make us more and more what God intends for us to be.
Suffering is a normal part of walking with Christ. Jesus said, "If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him" (John 12:26). We are honored to be servants of Jesus, and we follow Him—right into a life filled with suffering—because servants follow their masters!
But suffering isn't forever. Jesus didn't just suffer and die; He also rose from the dead, never to die again. And He has promised us that He will return on the Last Day so that we will be with Him forever. In the new heavens and new earth "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4).
WE PRAY: Dear Lord, when I suffer, stay close to me and help me to bear it in a way that honors You. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Have you ever been given an honor you wish you could say "no" to?
2. Does it change your feelings toward life if you start to consider suffering normal and you think of times of peace and comfort to be like vacations, God's good gifts to enjoy while you have them? If so, how?
3. When has God brought something good out of your suffering?
Today's Bible Readings: 2 Samuel 19-20 John 5:25-47
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"