Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you. but rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 5:12-13)
One of the ideas that is found throughout the Bible is the notion of the privilege of suffering. Whether it be persecution or a difficult ministry situation, or even personal disability, the Christian is to rejoice at the idea of being considered worthy of the suffering that we must face.
Frankly, most of us would gladly pass on this privilege.
Suffering for the glory of the gospel runs counter to our survival mechanism. We are wired to avoid pain and difficulty if at all possible and yet Peter, like other authors before him, exhorts us to rejoice at any sudden challenges that appear in our lives. Reading the rest of the verse gives us a clue that helps to change our attitude toward suffering. He reminds us that we are sharing in the suffering of Christ, in however small a way that the Lord deems appropriate for us to do so. Just as our promise awaits us in the distant future, we must also view today’s challenges as having an effect in the future of God’s plans.
Somehow, we still struggle.