Monday, 10 September 2012

Are You Suffering Well?

“19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” 1Peter 2:19-21

Am I suffering well – what kind of stupid question is that?  Some of you are in very difficult marriages.  In some cases it is because you are caring for your spouse who is suffering from a debilitating or terminal illness; in some cases your spouse has some difficult behavioral and/or emotional issues that haunt them; in still other cases your spouse is a non-Christian and God’s Word is of no account.

There are many challenging passages in Scripture and few are more difficult than 1Peter 2:19-21, which basically says that regardless of our circumstances we as Christians should be able to turn the other cheek so to speak, to “suffer” because Christ suffered unjustly and died for us.

1Peter 2:19 calls us to trust God in the midst of our suffering and frankly that is the only way that we can begin to respond righteously when we are being battered by the violent storms of life.  Unfortunately the typical response is to throw ourselves a pity party or to respond in kind to mistreatment.

1Peter 2:20 doesn’t help. Because I am a sinner and God has allowed me free will I am going to make some bad choices, I am going to act in a manner that is not befitting the King whom I claim to serve.  So this verse says to me, “suck it up buttercup” you made your bed so lie in it.

If you have a shrew for a wife you are being called to love her as Christ has loved his bride the church and to make every attempt to understand and know her and to treat her with respect.(1Peter 3:7; Ephesians 5:25)  If your husband would make Shrek look like prince charming you are to win him over by being submissive (1Peter 3:1-6).

This is where faith must kick in big time.  Self-talk may become one of your best and closest friends. We must remind ourselves that God does not waste pain.  We must tell ourselves continually that He is a God of love, mercy and grace.  We must be in His Word nurturing our minds with His promises.  And we must be connected to Christians who will encourage, support and pray for us, not just commiserate with us.

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