1 Peter - Trials & Suffering

Background

Peter, one of the disciples of Jesus, is the author of this epistle. He wrote this letter to a group of Christians scattered throughout the northern areas of Asia Minor. In this letter, Peter spoke much about persecution, which anticipated the persecution he and other Christians would endure in the final years of Nero’s reign. This epistle therefore contains guidance for us today on how we can live the Christian life even though life may be beset with problems.


Trials are there to test our faith

1 Peter 1:6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 4:19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Having gone through much trials and suffering himself, Peter was in a position to encourage all those who may be going through trials today. Like Paul in Philippians, Peter tells us to rejoice when we suffer trials because these trials are allowed by God for a good purpose - to test our faith. Therefore, we must not let ourselves be shaken by those trials. Continue to believe that God is still in control.


Rewards for those who successfully withstood trials

1 Peter 1:6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 2:20 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.

1 Peter 4:12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

When our faith is proven to be genuine, we will receive praise, glory and honor when we meet with our Lord Jesus. Peter urges us not to be surprised or discouraged when things seem to go wrong when we know we are walking in God’s will. Being in the centre of God’s will does not mean that we are exempt from problems. It only means that God will help us out of our problems because eventually He wants to accomplish His purposes.


Suffering is not an indication that you are outside God’s will

1 Peter 2:21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

1 Peter 4:19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

We may encounter suffering when God tests our faith. We may also encounter suffering in the process of doing God’s will. Jesus suffered when He obeyed His Father’s will and went to the cross. It does not mean that if things go wrong, it is because we have moved out of God’s will. Peter tells us that we should persevere and continue to do good.


Surrender to God when you are suffering unjustly

1 Pet 2:22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
1 Pet 3:9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

It is a natural reaction to retaliate when someone has wronged us. One of the most difficult commands in the Bible to obey is to “turn the other cheek”. Everything in us tells us to strike back. But Jesus left us with an example to follow. When He suffered wrongly He did not retaliate because He trusted God to repay justly.

Rom 12:9 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.


Our reaction to suffering is a testimony to non-Christians

1 Peter 3:1 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

Non-Christians are watching us Christians all the time to see how we behave. It is often easy to behave as a Christian when things are going fine but when we get agitated, we often behave in ways that we ourselves are ashamed of later. We all have people that we want to bring to the saving knowledge of God. These people could be our colleagues or our family members and friends. That is why it is so important to learn to react in a gentle way even when we are unjustly treated.