THE GOOD NEWS: Suffering in Christ, glory in Christ
1 Peter 4:12-19. 5:6-11 Why do bad things happen to good people? Every person on Earth has had thoughts like this run through their mind during times of suffering. Suffering should be something that only bad people experience. Yet, the reality is that everyone experiences suffering, and the human nature is adverse to it. Peter tells us not to be surprised when suffering finds us. Fiery trials will come our way and we’re not to think them strange. Why does the Christian think of suffering as something strange and adverse? In bearing the name Christian, we’re bearing the name of Christ! He is King of Kings! All glory, laud, and honor are his! Shouldn’t those bearing the name of the Lord of Lords enjoy only glory, laud, and honor like he who is our head? Quite the opposite. Peter tells us, don’t be surprised when the fiery trials find you. They will find you. That is the very nature of this sinful world. But we do not need to be ashamed of suffering. Peter says that we are to rejoice in the suffering. For it is in sharing Christ’s suffering that we will find ourselves glorified. This is so contrary to the corrupted and limited mind of man. We have a picture of glory. Glory is wealth, power, health, wisdom, and fame. Glory is not nakedness, hunger, weakness, unattractiveness, failing health or the act of dying. This is a skewed view, though. Peter is clear to tell us, when we suffer, cast away our sinful nature and inclinations which would be to feel ashamed. Instead, glorify God! Let those who suffer according to God’s Will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator. This is Peter saying that suffering is not without its Christian and spiritual purpose. Peter is wise to call suffering a fiery trial. What goes under a fiery trial? Precious metals to the result that they are strengthened and molded into what they are meant to be. Suffering is a blessing from God. For God has promised to work good in all things; to mold you into what He would have you be. Suffering is no exception. What is glory in God’s eyes? Jesus Christ is worthy and holder of all praise from all eternity. Yet, he humbled himself to be born a man. He was hung on a cross and died. What of that sounds like glory? Christ suffered for us! He took on our vain suffering from sin, death, and the Devil and put it to death on the cross. And the result? Three days later Christ was raised from the dead! He was glorified! Risen and ascended to dwell in glory at the right hand of God forever! This is glory for the Christian. To suffer. For when we suffer, we share in Christ’s suffering, bound to him by our glorious baptism. Paul tells us, if we share in his suffering, we also share in his glory. That’s why there’s no shame in suffering in this life! Suffering is a gift from God, which leads to our sharing in Christ’s glory. It refines our faith, strengthens our conviction, and draws us ever closer to our Lord. Suffering in this life is but a stepping stone in Christ to glory forevermore. We don’t deserve this glory by our own merits, but for the sake of Christ and his perfect suffering, it is promised to us in suffering and in comfort; in life and in death. So by God’s Spirit we are humbled. No longer does our pride cause us to be ashamed of suffering or persecution or cause us to doubt our faith, but rather it leads us to rejoice in God and cast all our anxieties on him, that we would wait eagerly with faithful hope for the time when God will exalt us in his glory. For that time is coming. We don’t know the time, only the Father does. As sure as there is suffering for the Christian in this world, even more sure is the suffering-free life in heaven promised to us by suffering — the blood and body of Christ Jesus and by the glory of God — the empty tomb. We will live in heaven in glory, where there is no suffering. In Christ’s name, amen. The Rev. Logan Landes is assistant pastor at Grace Lutheran Church. He can be reached at email@example.com.