In this video, I want to talk on How can we deal with suffering in spite of doing good? What are our options?
Suffering and painful events can happen to us as human beings. Suffering is a part of the fallen human condition.
Firstly, we face suffering generally as the world go through suffering. And even now, many are in the hospital and homes suffering because of the covid-19. Secondly, We can face suffering sometimes in spite of doing what is right. We can face suffering being a child of God and doing the work of God.
As an introduction, you should not be surprised if I tell you that you are called to suffer:
1 Peter 2:21
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
Paul had the same interpretation for a believer’s call:
1 Thessalonians 3:3
..so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them.
If Jesus our Messiah suffered and died, we who are his followers will also face suffering in this world. So how do we face suffering as a believer?
1 Peter 3:13-15
13Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil
Here Peter is talking to as to how we are to behave when we face persecution or suffer for unrighteousness.
Generally, harm for doing good is not possible. No one will harm anyone for doing good. But harm for doing good is a possibility for Christians. Christians may suffer for doing good and Peter is telling them how they must respond.
When you suffer, understand nobody can harm you because God is totally in-charge.
Nothing will happen to you without the will of God. 1 Peter 3:17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
God’s will sometimes want us to suffer for doing good. So God is in control and we will suffer only if it is God’s will. No suffering can come to a Christian unless God allows it for our good.
So When You Suffer For Doing Good, What Do You Do?
1. Know That You Are Blessed
1 Peter 3:13-14a 13Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.
Anytime you are trying to do what is right in the name of Christ and for his glory, any suffering that comes to you will lead to God’s blessing upon you.
What Is The Blessing Promised Here?
See the context. 1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
When you suffer for doing good or suffer injustice:
a. The eyes of our Lord are upon you.
b. The ears of our Lord are attentive to your prayer.
1 Peter 4:14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
c. The Spirit of God rests on you.
Jesus said something like this: Matthew 5:11-12 11“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…
2. Trust Christ
When you suffer for doing good, trust Christ.
1 Peter 3:14b-15a “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.
Peter makes specific reference and says do not be afraid of them or their threats.
This passage has close to the quotation from Isaiah 8:12-13 12“Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. 13The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.
We are not to be afraid of facing hostile situations or opposition in life. Therefore, do not fear the ones who are harming us.
Do not be afraid or troubled.
Also, do not be disturbed or shaken up.
The alternative to fear is to focus on someone else.
Focus on Christ.
1 Peter 3:15a But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Revere means treat as holy.
Isaiah 8:13 The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.
Peter now has changed “The Lord Almighty” to “Christ” because, The Lord Almighty has revealed to us in Christ Jesus. Peter says, “Revere Christ as Lord.” To revere Christ as Lord means Christ is in control over of events, not your human opponents. To have such reverence in your hearts is to maintain continually a deep-seated inward confidence in Christ as reigning Lord and King who even now has angels, authorities, and powers subject to him. 1 Peter 3:22 … who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
Christ is honored when we trust him in times of suffering and pain.
Christ becomes our sanctuary or holy place.
When your hope is unshakable, you will not be afraid, you will not be troubled and you will not be fearless. Then those who see us ask the reason for our hope. So trust God.
3. Use Suffering As An Opportunity To Witness
1 Peter 3:15b-17 15….Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
Even when a believer suffers for doing right, he/she should not be neutral or passive, but we must prepare for active witness. Christians should be prepared to give an answer regarding the hope that we have. Our live should be so exemplary which will prompt people to ask us the reason behind such kind of behavior. At such times we are to give a reason of the hope that we have.
Apostle Paul did that when he was on trial in Acts 22, 24, 26. In hostile situations, we may get an opportunity to share our faith, and we must be ready for it.
How are we to witness?
We are to witness in gentleness and respect.
And, we are not to be overpowering or aggressive, but let the Holy Spirit do the job of persuading the listener.
Therefore, we are to witness having a clear conscience before God.
Christ witnessed when he was persecuted. Noah witnessed when persecuted. Apostle Paul witnessed when persecuted.
4. Understand, Your Suffering Is For A Little While
See how Peter ends this epistle: 1 Peter 5:10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
Sometimes in the midst of the afflictions and ordinary stresses of daily life, we may cry out, “How long, O Lord? I can’t see beyond today’s pain. What will tomorrow bring?
Your suffering is only for a little while. It is a short duration. See Peter starts this with ‘the God of all grace..’ God is not a God of some grace. God is a God of all grace and he will give you the grace to enduring your suffering for the little while until Jesus Christ is revealed.
So, How to deal with suffering?
First of all we must understand that believers can face suffering in spite of doing good. We are called to suffer like our Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. When we go through suffering, remember, God is in control. and God has a blessed outcome for the suffering.