In this 1 Peter 5 study, we’ve already looked at the words humble, cast, watchful, and resist. We’ve finally made it to the suffering . Thanks for being patient, I decided to stop posting it on the blog until after we had talked about it in our Connection Class (Sunday School) at church. And, we talked about suffering for three weeks. THREE! (All of our fabulous discussion and learning isn’t reflected here.) I was so not expecting that. In fact, I was not expecting to spend three months on 1 Peter 5:6-11 when we started this back in June. So thanks for sticking with it.
Oh, suffering. That’s such an enticing word, isn’t it? Initially it sounds painful to me, something I want to avoid and not experience. However, I have a new appreciation and dare I say understanding for what suffering is and what it means to suffer. There’s not a single human walking this earth that has escaped the experience, therefor making it a universal connector amongst us all. But there is something much greater, that overcomes the suffering, connecting us. Love.
“Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:9-10 (ESV) I love how scripture says that we will only suffer for a little while and reminds us that our brotherhood throughout the world is also suffering. It reminds me that I’m not alone, and that others are experiencing it.
My husband starts something new with his job soon and needed a specific shirt as part of his uniform. While standing at the check out counter in the store, a woman I know walked up behind me to check out and said hello. I was surprise to see her and asked if she had the day off of work, to which she replied no. Her mother and father had both passed away that week, and she was preparing for their funeral and needed some clothing items. My heart aches for her, and can not imagine the suffering she was experiencing. We usually don’t know when someone is suffering just by outward appearances. It’s an internal experience, that only sometimes bleeds over into visible places.
We will all experience suffering, there’s not one of us who will escape this. Way back in Genesis, the suffering began and it will continue until our last breath. I don’t say this to be a downer, it’s the truth. Remembering that we all suffer makes me want to reach out in love to others, even when I don’t feel like it.
The word suffering in the Hebrew is pathema and means something undergone, hardship or pain, subjectively an emotion or influence. The emotion part sticks out to me, because sometimes my “I don’t feel like it” or other emotions override action in a not-so-great way. I’ve come to the place that if I’m going to suffer, which will happen, I want to suffer well.
When you experience suffering, what do you do?
Sometimes I question myself, trudge through in my own power and roll around in the muck, stuff it down, complain. Maybe you like to wade through self-pity, or wear the suffering like a badge of honor? There are so many different ways to suffer, and I simply want to do it better today than I did yesterday.
What are we supposed to do, or remember, when we suffer? There’s a few things that come to mind. Staying mindful of who I am in Christ, a christ-consciousness, is huge for me. It not only reminds me of who I am, but who others are as well – creations of the Creator. (1 Peter 2:19) Rejoicing and giving thanks through the suffering has pulled me up out of the pain on more than one occasion. (James 1:2-3, 1 Peter 4:13)
There are so many ways to suffer well, and our ultimate example being Jesus on the cross. I’m so grateful for his loving example. I would encourage you to seek out what scripture tells us about suffering well. And remember, it’s only going to last a little while.