S81P4 – The sorrowful saint: discernment in suffering

1 Pet. 2:18-20

Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and kind, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if a person endures the sorrow of suffering unjustly because of an awareness of God. After all, what kind of credit is there if, when you do wrong and are punished for it, you endure it patiently? But if when you do what is right and patiently bear suffering, this finds favor with God.

He fought it all the way.  His daily prayer, or should we say what he prayed just about every hour, was for God to take this suffering away. He was an adult, after all, and was not used to this kind of ridicule and teasing.  His was a professional work environment, or at least it should have been.  What he expected was that people would respect each other’s beliefs even if they were not in agreement, but he never thought that his faith would be an issue of any kind in that place.  The problem never rose to the level of being overlooked for a certain position or treated unfairly by the organization.  For him, his adversaries were his peers in that office.  When he was given the silent treatment, or when people stopped speaking or started snickering because he had entered the room, he felt the eyes of the world staring down his faith.  What he could not understand was the good purpose behind this.

There are some sorrows which actually bring us spiritual benefit.  Think of the sorrow Jesus endured in The Garden of Gethsemane, the trouble which brought him to tears and sleeplessness.  Think of the sorrow He then suffered on the cross.  Add to that every other sorrow He felt as a result of being treated unjustly instead of being treated as the king He is.  We say that this is wrong and terrible, and perhaps we wish that we could have made things better for the Lord when He walked the Earth. The thing is, the sorrow that Christ endured as a result of his unjust suffering was an important part of the great spiritual work He was called to complete.  God does the same thing with us on a smaller scale.  Sharing in the sufferings of Christ means sharing in the sorrow. What we have to remember is that there is a purpose behind this sorrow and this suffering.

I am sure we all have prayed for God to take away something from our lives which actually was being used for a good spiritual purpose.  It could be physical suffering, alienation from our peer group, or retribution of any kind and from any source as a result of our faith.  It is painful, unpleasant and uncomfortable.  We might respond by asking God to remove it or make it go quickly.  Perhaps we should exercise some discernment and revisit that request.  Perhaps the Lord is seeking that we understand the reason for the sorrow and willingly submit to his allowing us to endure it for his good purpose.  That takes spiritual maturity, but we can get there.  Father, give us a deeper understanding of the spiritual implications of the sorrow and suffering You call us to endure, that we would allow it to complete its good work in us.