Change the Why to a What

Message: In 1 Peter 4 we continued reading about suffering. Since chapter 4 is a continuation of chapter 3 we had left off reading about the suffering of Christ in the flesh. Peter challenges us that Christ suffered with purposeful intention and that we need to suffer with the same resolve. We talked about this yesterday and I named the devotional “Suffering with purpose” because it is a mindset. Chapter 4 goes on to remind us that judgment begins in the house of God so we need to make sure that our suffering is not due to our own disobedience and bad behavior because there is no reward or glory in that. We will experience a different kind of suffering when we are living in obedience and are suffering as a result of doing what is right. Verse 12 goes on to say that we shouldn’t be surprised when this kind of suffering happens. I think this is a really important thing to understand because as Christians we know that we have been given promises and sometimes we become so focused on the promises that we begin to believe that any problems or suffering we encounter are out of place or from the devil. We get stuck in the mode of asking “why” we are suffering and this opens the door to self-pity and defeat. Peter is encouraging us to equip ourselves by preparing our minds in advance that we will suffer. This is not a self-defeating, negative, expect the worst kind of mindset, but the kind of mental preparation we need so that we don’t feel blindsided when things happen. When I work out, I expect to be sore. If I dread being sore to the point that it stops me from working out I miss the opportunity and the benefit of gaining strength and health. When the next day aches come I feel the pain, but it comes with a certain satisfaction because I know the pain came from working out. I know that my muscles have been stretched and tested to the limits so that I can be stronger and more fit. Our suffering is an opportunity for growth. Even if we caused it we still have an opportunity to learn and grow from it. We have to stop asking “why” and instead ask God “what”…as in “what do you want to do in me through this?” I never understood James 1:2 “count it all joy when you experience trials” until I started to understand that all pain is an opportunity for growth. This is where maturity and growth happen and this is what increases our faith. When we make it through some hard things and look back, we are able to see that even though we hurt and we suffered, we were not overcome by it. God walked with us through the process and we are now better for it. We are the people we are today because of the hard things we walked through. Don’t waste an opportunity asking why. Instead ask what and grow from it. Don’t waste pain!

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