This is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. To this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:19, 21 ESV)
Suffering is a fact of life after the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden. But there is a special kind of suffering that Peter speaks about in today’s passage. This suffering is not the suffering that naturally results from living in a broken and sin-stained world; rather, the suffering that Peter had in mind comes from being a disciple of Christ and suffering for Christ’s sake.
The darkness hates the light, so we, as children of the light, must expect to suffer when we are living for the Light of the World. When Jesus came into the world as this Light, He suffered greatly, even unto death on a cross. And that is the reality of the relationship between darkness and light . . . evil and good . . . unrighteousness and righteousness. It is certain that to the degree we live out our calling as disciples of Christ, we will experience suffering.
When James said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,” he was telling us that this was indeed the pattern of Christ in His suffering in this world, which He endured “for the joy set before him” (Hebrews 12:2). And what was the joy set before Him? It was you and me and all those who were His. He took the crown of thorns, the nine-inch nails, the agony of the cruel cross, and the utterly inconceivable wrath of God, all for the joy of bringing us into eternal relationship with Him.
After the Sanhedrin flogged the apostles for speaking in the name of Jesus, we read that “The apostles left . . . rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Acts 5:41). The more the disciples spoke of Jesus, the more they suffered for it. And the more they suffered, the more they rejoiced, because in their suffering they were like their Savior.
Here is the stark question that confronts you and me: Have I suffered for Christ? As disciples of Jesus, suffering is certain, but only if the darkness knows we are the children of the light. Do those you come in contact with know this truth about you? Remember, whatever sufferings we go through for the glory of God are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us when we cross the Jordan. Let that truth strengthen you for the certainty of suffering, for it is a gracious thing to follow the example of our Lord.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!