Why do we suffer?

In my book Redbud Corner, Ah Ni must learn to stand for her faith even when pressure and persection threaten. She, as the disciples of old, discovers that God is faithful to sustain and strengthen her. Peter's encouragement would surely have lifted her heart:

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:19 ESV

But what about us? People suffer for many reasons. Unfortunately, a lot of us suffer because of our own bad decisions, which Peter mentions in this passage (read 1 Peter 4:12-19). He warns us against suffering as a murderer, thief, evildoer or meddler (those last two probably hit home for all of us—I can’t tell you how much trouble I’ve gotten into from meddling where I shouldn’t!). He also tells us we shouldn’t be surprised when we suffer.

This flies in the face of so much of what we hear preached in our society by those who call themselves representatives of God’s Word. We are not promised prosperity, health, and eternal youth as these teachers proclaim. The disciples, including Peter, who all suffered enormously for their faith would have been shocked at this warping of the truth. No—as Christians, we can expect to suffer if we are walking with Christ. That is a guarantee.

So how can we handle it when we face the inevitable suffering? We “entrust our souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” We don’t abandon what we are doing in disillusionment and fear—we persevere and keep on doing what God has called us to do, trusting him to sustain and encourage us.

Are you suffering because of a stand you are taking for Jesus? If so, let this passage in 1 Peter give you hope. Are you suffering because of a bad decision? Don’t despair. Confess and move on to do the next thing God asks you to do.

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