After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.1 Peter 5:10(NASB)
We discover that the aging apostle Peter, who denied His Lord at the start of his Christian walk, came to an understanding that suffering precedes glory in the life of a believer.. sadness comes before joy and the darkest night of mourning will finally turn into the brightest noon-day sun... "for after you have suffered for a little while" Peter informs his readers.. "After you have suffered... the God of all grace, Who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you."
Peter made it clear that suffering was inevitable, unavoidable and inescapable. Suffering as a Christian is not a matter of choice but the certain consequence of our faith in Christ. Jesus entered this world as the suffering Servant of God. It had been prophesied that He would be despised and rejected, wounded and ill-treated, maligned and beaten, unjustly tried and cruelly crucified.
Jesus told His disciples shortly before His death, "They hated me without a cause," and continued.. "and if they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also". But after the cross.. at the close of His earthly sojourn, with its humiliation and sufferings, came Christ's resurrection, ascension and glorification, and with it came 'an eternal weight of glory'.
The Lord Jesus Himself learned obedience by the things He suffered.. and after His time of suffering, Christ came into His eternal glory and willingly and joyfully shares it with all who trust in His name. Peter also came to understand more fully, that after we have experienced suffering for a little while, God in His grace, will perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us.
Although suffering is not something we relish, God has promised to strengthen and support us - to restore and establish us and to bring us into HIS eternal glory, in Christ. James regarded those who endured suffering as 'blessed', while Paul considered that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. To the end of his life, Paul's passionate cry was "that I may know HIM. That I may know CHRIST, and the power of His resurrection. That I may fellowship with Jesus in His sufferings - and be made conformable unto His death"
Like Paul and the other apostles, Peter was ready and willing to identify with Christ's suffering and warned us not to be surprised at any fiery ordeal we face, or consider them strange.. because life's difficulties and dangers are there to test us. God uses them to strengthen our faith. Peter reminded us that when we suffer for Christ, we share in HIS sufferings - we identify with HIM, just as He identified with us.
OH.. we are not sharing in His sacrificial work on the cross - NEVER!! for Christ ALONE paid the price for our sin. But we share in His humiliation. We participate in His suffering because we are His Body - the Body of Christ. Today we have to suffer a little. Today we have to share in the sufferings of Christ, BUT we rejoice, in the revelation of His glory. We rejoice with exultation.. for after we have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, Who called us to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us. HALLELUJAH what a Saviour!
Suffering with Christ is simply a portal which translates His blood-bought believers into His eternal joy, and as sinners saved by grace, we have peace with God - for the forgiveness of sin and the peace of God in our heart. And a day is coming when we will greatly rejoice with all of His saints in heaven.
Although we are in the world we are not part of the world for we are positioned in Christ, members of His body and inheritors of His eternal glory. We are one with our Lord.. and on the same night that He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus prayed for ALL His followers. He prayed for YOU and HE prayed for ME. He did not pray that God would remove us from the inevitable sufferings of this world. He prayed the Father would keep us safe in this age, as we journey through our earthly path.
Peter, like the apostle Paul, had come to understand that weeping may last for a night, but joy is certain to come in the morning. First, we must bear the cross before we will wear the glorious crown. Peter's prayer was that Christ's followers would be firmly established, in both faith and duty, despite the difficulties that would inevitably arise in our lives - for Peter knew that all those called by God's kindness and grace will one day partake in His eternal glory and joy.
Peter knew that those who are heirs of the kingdom and joint-heirs with Christ must first suffer a little while. But he also knew that suffering has eternal benefits, for it establishes, strengthens, perfects and matures the believer, as he grows in grace and as he perseveres on his journey to his celestial home.
Peter KNEW these truths and we must ask ourselves - do I?
Loving Father, I am overwhelmed by Your kindness and grace, that has called me to share in your heavenly glory through Christ Jesus my Lord. I pray that I may walk worthy of You and not shrinking from the fiery trial of life, but that through them I will be firmly established in the faith and strengthened in Your Word, with my feet firmly fixed on the Rock of my salvation, in Jesus' name I pray. AMEN.