By Randy Keene
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Minor Hill
Focal Passage: I Peter 4:1-2, 12-19
In this lesson we will look at the joy that can be a byproduct of suffering and how we can deepen our relationship with Christ because of it. Adrian Rogers once said, “Our faith is often developed in the darkrooms of life.” As a believer, it’s my testimony that this is very true.
In I Peter 4, Peter lets his readers know that as we walk closer and closer to God we should have a better understanding of the suffering Christ had to go through and that we should focus on the glory of God that will be revealed no matter what happens to us.
Evangelist David Ring put it like this one time some years back while speaking at Highland Baptist in Pulaski, “You’ve got to turn the lemons in life into lemonade.” In the face of suffering, we should think like Christ would think.
Peter and John had suffered for Christ but through that suffering had come to the place in maturity that allowed them to be focused on the will of God, not the desires of human flesh. After all, they were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. Take the story of Ruth, she made a choice to follow Naomi, even leaving her own culture and people.
She suffered the loss of loved ones, property and had to glean in the fields for leftovers just to survive. But she depended on a new God and new ways as she suffered in the flesh. Soon the field she gleaned from would be hers — all by the wonderful hand of God. Peter was motivated by the same redeeming power of God.
Peter didn’t want his readers to be surprised when they experienced these sufferings because of following Christ. As a matter of fact, he provided three observations: First, he cautioned them not to be surprised. Second, he warned them that when we walk through trials they can be a fiery ordeal, and third, he wanted them to be aware that something unusual was happening to a believer in Christ.
Peter took it a step further and added that we can connect the joy in the Lord now to the joy in the Lord later. Not too long ago I was struggling with some things going on in church and it had brought me to a place of deep concern. It was stealing my joy and really affecting my outlook on life. I love to read and in my library is a book that was suggested by a dear brother in the ministry, Pastor Jeff Putnam of Liberty Grove Baptist in Lawrence County. The book is Dispensational Truth, by Clarence Larkin. One day it just jumped off the shelf at me and I started reading about the 1,000-year reign. Here is a quote: “Darkness is not eternal, the fullness of time shall come.” In short, pity party over.
Peter was telling his people we don’t have to wait until then to rejoice. On the contrary, we can rejoice now because of the hope we have in Christ and His sufferings. No matter how we are treated for being messengers of the gospel, no one can take away our blessing because God has promised it to us. I don’t know about you but that is good news for me and mine. Amen and Amen!