Anyone who is alive knows what it is to suffer. All of us, in small ways or large, have known the pain that life sometimes brings. Some people consider the existence of suffering to be an argument against the existence of God—that a good God would not allow people to suffer. But the biblical view is much different. The biblical view is that we should expect pain and that sometimes pain will be the result of doing the right thing. And God isn’t so much concerned with our momentary comfort as He is with shaping our souls for eternity. That is the message of the Apostle Peter’s first letter.
If anyone knew what it meant to suffer for the cause of Christ, it was Peter, who composed this letter of encouragement and hope. He knew both physical and psychological suffering from his own experience. But he offers great hope in the midst of such pain. Suffering, he writes, is a prelude to future glory. Our trials are but for a limited time because there is an eternal reward awaiting God’s children. In the meantime, suffering has a purpose in the present—it builds character and leads to holiness. We may go through the fire, but when the fire goes through us, it will refine and reshape our souls. Our pain has a purpose; it is the prelude to the glory that is to come.
This isn’t a letter that tackles the philosophical problem of suffering, but one that poses the question:
How will you respond to it?
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