Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
— 1 Peter 4:12–13
I’ll just say it: suffering is not fun. I know that I don’t like suffering. I have thrown my back out multiple times, and I have never lain there cringing in pain and thought, “This is one of the greatest days of my life!” In fact, times of suffering are often attached to some of the worst days of our lives.
So when Peter tells us, “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed,” how are we to rejoice in something when we hate suffering? The answer: focus on the goal.
When my wife was pregnant, there was a lot of suffering for her. She didn’t sleep well, she was uncomfortable all the time, and she had to deal with all the people coming and touching her stomach without asking. After that was the birthing process, where there was more suffering, including contractions and the epidural needle (which is giant, and my wife hates, hates needles). And then there was the actual birth. There was nothing about this process that was enjoyable to my wife. So you would think that, after all that suffering, she would only want to do that once. We have three kids.
My wife rejoiced in her suffering, because she knew what would ultimately happen. We would be forever changed for the better. We love our three kids (most of the time) and wouldn’t trade them for the world. But to get them, my wife had to suffer. And to get through the suffering, she focused on the goal.
When it comes to our walk with Christ, often we do not see the suffering as a positive, but Peter said to rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings. Why rejoice? God’s hand is at work in your life, and he is using your suffering for his glory! Romans tells us that He makes all things work together for our good.
It may not make sense now, but that’s where faith comes in. We trust that our God is in control and knows what is best for us. And, in that, we have faith that this suffering will make us look more like him and bring him the glory. When my wife looks at our three kids, she doesn’t see the suffering anymore. She sees love, the future and hope.