Published by Barnabas International • PO Box 11211 • Rockford, IL 61126 • Volume XX • No. 7 • July 2006
LEE HOTCHKISS, Executive Director <> LAREAU LINDQUIST, Founder
The theme of Peter's first epistle is suffering. He is a credible author on the subject for two reasons: (1) He knew the reality of suffering firsthand. He knew the suffering that comes from personal failure, which he heavily experienced following his triple denial. He also knew the suffering that sometimes comes in the course of Christian ministry. His ministry was offensive to the religious establishment in the first century. They threatened him. They imprisoned him. They flogged him. He was ordered to quit talking about Jesus, but . . . Luke tells us that he rejoiced because he had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day in the temple courts and from house to house, he never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ. (Acts 5:40-41. (2) He was also a credible author because he was a witness to Christ's suffering (I Peter 5:1). He was there. He saw it all.
From such a background, Peter writes his epistle on suffering to fellow-Christians in the first century. Its relevance to our century is as significant as when it was first written. Perhaps more so. In I Peter 5:9, he says that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings that his listeners were experiencing. In the preceding verse he makes it clear that the Devil was behind all the suffering and persecution that they were experiencing. It is important for us too, to realize that behind the opposition that we do see, is the real source that we do not see.
Here's PETER'S ADVICE in 4:12 . . . Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. He is telling them to EXPECT IT. He had heard Jesus say that in John 16:33 . . . In this world you will have trouble. It will come to you and me, also.
Here's PETER'S ENCOURAGEMENT, experienced by Himself and now confidently reassuring us. The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (I Peter 5:10-11)
The God of all grace . . . that's one of God's names, and He lives up to His name.
The suffering will not last forever . . . only for a little while, though it seems `forever.'
He often sends relief in many ways but also, He . . . Himself will restore you. Notice that the text tells us that He will restore you and it will be evidenced as you become strong, firm, and steadfast. Imagine Peter's own experience of starting out as a spiritual weakling but ending up as a spiritual giant.
Perhaps you are thinking that sounds too good to be true. Maybe you say "impossible" when you think of your own situation.
Listen to these wonderful words penned by Annie Flint Johnson.
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater. He giveth more strength when the labors increase.
To added affliction He addeth His mercy. To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance. When our strength has failed ere the day is half done.
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources, Our Father's full giving is only begun.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure. His power has no boundary known unto men,
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and giveth and giveth again.