Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
1 Peter 4:12-19
Dear God, we are so soft. I am so soft. Even as I type this right now, I’m sitting on the balcony of a nice condominium watching the waves of the ocean roll in. The sun is rising. The sound is constant and relentless. In fact, the sound is something I can simply do nothing about but just give into it and make it a part of my life. I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.
I’ve decided to start each day of this week of vacation listening to a sermon. I’ve been a little too much in my own head lately with scripture and I need to hear some pastoral teaching. I think it’s good to have a balance. I need that personal time in scripture so that the Holy Spirit can speak to me directly, but I also need to have someone else speak your words to me.
This morning, I decided to give a pastor I know of from Nebraska a try. I found this message on suffering from September 27, and it as good. He set the context for Peter’s words in this passage. Christians were being brutally persecuted and murdered at this point. He indicated that Peter was only two years away from being crucified upside down when he wrote these words. Suffering for this audience was at a 10. It just didn’t get any worse than their experience. So what’s my problem?
I was in Walmart two days ago talking with a woman I know and she and I were talking about the current restrictions with the pandemic (which, at this point, are pretty limited–I think we are just down to wearing masks and limited capacity at some places and public gatherings). Our temptation was to complain and I finally said, “We are so soft.” I’ve said this several times over the last seven months, but the “Greatest Generation” didn’t become that way because of the Roaring 20s. They became that way because of how they responded to the 30s and the 40s. Well, this isn’t nearly as bad as that was, but we can use this to make us stronger. You can use this to make us stronger, more sensitive to our neighbors in need, and more dependent upon you. You can use this to renew our churches and our prayer lives.
Father, first, thank you. Thank you for how you’ve provided for my wife and me and for the work I do. This has really been an amazing year, and I can testify to your provision and kindness. Help me to remain faithful to you in it and not take your kindness for granted. You are an amazing God. Thank you also for this vacation. My wife and I are very tired, but we are tired for different reasons. But we need this. We need you. So thank you for this week. Help us to get what we need. Second, I pledge to you that I will do my absolute best to follow you, worship you, and give myself and any accolades that I receive to you. I will decrease so that you can increase. I will accept my lot in life. Please use it all. Use me, my suffering (if that’s what I want to call it)–better said, use any pain that comes my way to mold me into the man you need me to be and bring you glory. And bring revival to your church through all of this, and that starts with repentance. Revive us again!
In Jesus’s name I pray,