“Therefore, let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (I Peter 4:19).
There is a line in the middle of that previous sentence that might stop some Christians in their tracks, “…let those who suffer according to God’s will…” Could times of suffering, trial, or tribulation be part of God’s will for His children? Most of us would concede that suffering might be a result of one’s sin. Another might concede that there is suffering that is a result of unbelief. But, suffering that might be ordained of God for God’s own purposes? First of all, our minds don’t even want to go there. Second of all, it is a concept that is foreign to much of the preaching in our world today.
Though it is true that much suffering in the life of a Christian is a result of sin or unbelief, there is also evidence that God allows suffering in the lives of His children as part of His refining process. Of this, the Apostle Peter wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:3-7).
At the revelation of Jesus, God the Father is going to present to His Son, His bride, the Church. “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19”7).
How was it that God prepared His Son for His bride? “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10) and “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things that He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).
The very thing that God used to prepare His Son for His bride, He is using to prepare a bride for His Son. So, Peter reminds us, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though some strange thing 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).