Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.1 Peter 4:19(NASB)
For many decades, the west has been spared much of the persecution that has been the norm throughout almost 2000 years of Church history. Indeed, the 'normal Christian life' of recent years, is far more accurately labelled the 'abnormal' Christian life', for down through centuries of time, Bible-believing Christians have been hunted down, brutally persecuted, frequently killed, and treated abominably, for righteousness sake.
Much of Peter's epistle, which was addressed to believers who had been scattered abroad due to severe persecution in those early days of the Church, was on the subject of suffering for Christ's sake. He detailed the Christ-like conduct, that by grace through faith in Him, we should be willing to demonstrate to a world enslaved by sin, Satan, and death.
One of the main messages of the ageing apostle Peter in his first epistle, was to endure suffering with a Christ-like faith and an unbreakable trust in God's Word, so that believers may be further identified with their suffering Saviour, Who when He was reviled, did not retaliate, and when He suffered, did not threaten His abusers, but gave Himself over into the hands of Him Who judges all things, righteously.
Because the Lord Jesus suffered, we are also called to suffer for His sake, for this brings glory to His name. At the end of his life, as he faced death for Christ's sake, the apostle Paul's deep desire was, "that I may know Christ, and the power of His resurrection and fellowship in His sufferings." Paul was ready to be identified with Christ's suffering and shame - and we should seek to follow his example.
Like Peter, the apostle Paul was ready and willing to endure suffering and persecution for the sake of Christ, knowing that his soul was secure in His hand and that His grace was sufficient in every affliction he faced. Like Paul, the apostle Peter also knew that those that endured suffering according to the will of God, bore ongoing witness to the unsaved, who are dead in their sins. Our suffering becomes a testimony of the hope of salvation we have in Christ Jesus, and the peace that comes through faith in Him.
We have a firm hope in Christ and the expectation of His soon return to take us to be with Himself, and so in this verse, we find Peter offering comfort, encouragement, courage, and instruction, to all who endure suffering for the sake of Christ. Therefore, Peter wrote, "those also who suffer according to the will of God, shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator, in doing what is right."
In this verse, Peter was contrasting the suffering of Christians for Christ's sake, "suffering according to the will of God," with the suffering of the ungodly. Whether we suffer as a result of persecution or through God's chastening rod, we have the assurance that our suffering is short-lived and not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be ours in the eternal ages to come - for our soul is entrusted into God's safe-keeping. For the unbeliever, however, who rejects God's offer of salvation, there awaits His terrible wrath, which will be far greater than our short lived afflictions in this current age.
Christ did not deserve to suffer, but meekly submitted to the punishment He received, for He had been called and appointed to suffer, according to the will of God, so that by His stripes we may be healed, and through His shed blood on Calvary's Cross, we may be redeemed. Should we not be prepared to suffer for His sake?
The future life of all believers will be free from sin and Satan, death and hell, but for this brief span on earth, we are called to share in the suffering of Christ - for righteousness sake. We are also called to undergo the wise correction of our heavenly Father, and to endure hardship, in a world that is lost, and whose only hope is to hear the good news of the gospel of grace.
As God's born-again children, we have been called to fulfil our mission.. to go into all the world and tell forth the good news of the gospel of grace - that God loved the world so much, that He gave His only begotten Son... to become the sin-substitute, for fallen man. Those who believe will suffer according to the will of God, but will not be condemned, while those who do not believe in Him, will be judged and found wanting... and will suffer the consequences of their unbelief forever.
The inevitable consequences of the responsibility we bear, as sons of God, is animosity from those that are dead in their sins. Just as they hated Christ without a cause, so the unsaved will hate us too - without a cause. However, it is by doing right that we may silence the ignorance of foolish men.. and suffering according to the will of God, will bring honour to His name.
Let us recognise that the normal Christian life in this fallen world, will inevitably result in persecution and pain. Jesus Himself warned that in this world we will have trials and tribulation - but we are not to be fearful, for He has overcome the world and we are victorious in Him. Let us, therefore, entrust our souls to our faithful Creator, by doing what is right - for this will bring glory to His name and may contribute to a lost sinner being snatched from the jaws of hell.
Heavenly Father, thank You that by faith, I have been identified with the Lord Jesus Christ, and have become one of Your children. Father, I entrust my life into Your hands, knowing that for Christ's sake, I will be hated of all men. Thank You that You sent Christ into the world to go to the Cross, and to suffer on my account. Give me the grace to endure suffering for His name's sake, and may my life be a witness to Your goodness and grace, in a world that is lying in the grasp of the evil one. Into Your hands I commit my soul, and thank You, Father, that my citizenship is in heaven. But while I am on earth, may I walk in spirit and truth, and live a life that is pleasing to You. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.