The Fiery Trial (Chapter 4 Verses 12-19)
This suffering is no strange thing says Peter (vv12-19). In fact it is par for the course. Especially so under such an anti-Christian government. But that surely describes most governments in the world at any given time. If a government is godly, it is the exception rather than the rule. So the Church, Christians, ought not to think it a strange thing when they find themselves going through painful trials like this. But how should we react to it? With joy we are told (v13; James 1.2-4). Because we are never more like our Saviour when we are suffering for our faith. No not when we suffer for being evildoers (v15), but when it is for righteousness sake. In fact we should be overjoyed (v13), that is what Jesus said as well (Luke 6.22-23). Would you believe it, there is even the Spirit of glory resting upon you when you are suffering for the sake and in the name of Jesus? Our enemies when they reproach us because we wear the name of Jesus, because we profess him and live for him, seek to shame and disgrace us. But we must not allow that to be, for the Spirit of God bestows a blessing upon us, he puts glory upon us, the same glory that was put upon Jesus. Remember how John refers to Jesus’ glory, and how he sees as the height, the supremacy of his glory as being the cross, the ultimate of his suffering at the hands of men. Well that is the glory resting upon you when you are slandered for being a Christian.
For most of us it doesn’t come from governments, or rulers, but at home, from husbands, wives and children, or in the work-place. For most of us it is the insidious remarks, unkind, cutting statements, things people know to be contrary to your faith, and said to wind you up, to make you stumble. The relentless persecution that some dear believers have to face in their own homes would shake a lot of us who live in the quiet serenity of a united family. Such Christians are worthy of our prayers, and need to be encouraged by what Peter says here through the Holy Spirit, he, God’s Spirit, is with you and resting upon you in your situation, in all your suffering. Lift your head up, don’t be ashamed (v16), God loves you, and smiles upon you. Praise him, because you bear his lovely name (v16b), commit yourself to him, your faithful Creator (v19). These persecutors, what will their end be, if God begins with his own (v17), whatever will be the outcome for those who have refused, and go on and on rejecting the Lord Jesus (v17b). Bless them and pray for them and be kind to them (Luke 6.27-28).
(© James R Hamilton, written May, 1998)