January 23, 2024 Devotional by Rose-Marie Slosek
Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind. (1 Peter 4:1)
The apostle Peter, writing toward the end of his life, is pastorally giving the believers advice about the attitude that will serve them best. He points to Jesus, who chose to embrace suffering to ransom us and to do the will of God. Jesus was utterly committed to walking according to the will of God. He never sinned. He turned His back on temptation. He delighted in obeying the will of God. Likewise, our job is to follow Him and to prepare to follow Him no matter what.
To ready for that, we must arm ourselves with the idea that we will suffer. Suffering will come because it came to Jesus. Our suffering serves a purpose: it shows that we are utterly committed to following God, no matter what, and we are willing to turn our backs to our old life of sin.
Suffering may come as a shock to us. Therefore, we must agree to it ahead of time so that we won’t be taken by surprise or run away when it presents itself. Peter tells us that embracing the suffering that comes from following Jesus is part of the normal Christian life. God doesn’t enjoy our suffering. It is not for His pleasure that we suffer! God forbid! We suffer because Christ and His way are often rejected in this fallen world. If they killed the Master, we must expect that difficult things will come to us. Do you remember when Jesus said to Peter, “When you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go,” (John 21:18)?
All the apostles except John died as martyrs. Martyrdom is not the only suffering. We can be rejected by our families. We can be saddened and vexed by the godlessness around us. We can suffer humiliation and rejection for the name of Christ. Because we are led by God, He may choose to lead us into difficult circumstances. Our lives are not our own and our destinies are woven into the purposes of God. God never wills us harm, but we may suffer because we are committed to doing the will of God. We should just see this as part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. No suffering will last forever. So let any suffering we endure be offered to the One who suffered the most entirely for our sakes. We can rejoice that our suffering is but for a season as we look toward His peaceable kingdom to come quickly.