Scripture Reading: I Peter 4:12-19
“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.” (I Peter 4:12,13)
Throughout this week we have been focusing on the good that comes out of trials. God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). God uses trials to mold us more and more into the image of His Son Jesus (Romans 8:29). Trials produce endurance, character and hope (Romans 5:3-5). God tells us that trials may be necessary, for a little while, to test our faith and through these trials He purifies our faith (I Peter 1:6,7). And we saw how the testing of our faith produces steadfastness that leads to spiritual maturity (James 2:2-4). God allows us go go through times of difficulty because He knows what is needed to strengthen our faith.
I saved this last passage on suffering (I Peter 4:12-19) until the end of the week because it takes us to another level in our spiritual understanding and growth. The passage tells us that we can rejoice in our sufferings because through them we have the opportunity to share in the sufferings of our Savior to a very small degree. When we suffer, our minds should turn to the suffering of Jesus Christ. Of course, we cannot grasp the extent of the sufferings Christ endured for our sake. He bore the pain of being abandoned, abused and humiliated. He suffered horrific physical pain. But far greater than these things, Jesus suffered the wrath of God, the pain of hell, when He was nailed to the cross. He suffered in our place, so that we will never have to suffer the kind of suffering He endured.
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised and we esteemed Him not” (Isaiah 53:3).
“Surely He has borne our griefs and and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4).
“But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
While we can never experience the degree of suffering our Savior did, we can have a small taste of what He went through. Each time we face trials, difficulties, suffering and pain, our minds should go to the sufferings of Jesus. We can say to ourselves, “I hurt, but my Savior hurt infinitely more than what I am experiencing and He suffered because of me.” When we do this, we share in Christ’s sufferings and find strength to endure whatever comes our way. We can rejoice that we have the opportunity to taste a little of our Savior’s sufferings. “Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (Hebrews 12:3).
Lord Jesus, the trials we are experiencing pale to nothing compared to the trials You went through. You were despised and rejected. You were abandoned and humiliated. You were stricken by God and afflicted, so that we would never have to experience these things. And You bore the judgment of God, His holy wrath, so that we would not have to bear it ourselves. I rejoice when I can share to a very small degree in Your sufferings. I can never thank You enough for what You have done for me.
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