blessing in suffering

Have you ever been slandered, bullied, or made fun of for doing the right thing? For being a Christian? Suffering for doing good or not being like for being a Christian is normal. The hard part is responding well to this kind of suffering. This is why Peter shares some ways to bless to others while suffering.

Respond in the way others least expect

Sometimes people are mean, they say mean things and do mean things. Even people in the church may treat you wrongly, but contrast their meanness by expressing a unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, tender heart and humility (vs.8-9). When you respond this way it will deflect evil and show others the attitude of Christ.

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:8-9, ESV

Responding by blessings those who inflict suffering doesn’t come natural to us. However, you are called to bless, even in suffering. Our suffering is a picture of Christ’s suffering. It is an occasion to proclaim the gospel, not always in words but in the way you walk through suffering.

Remember what God has already said

The Scriptures are chalked full of promises, even in the midst of suffering (vs.10-12). In Psalm 34, David pens a song while he was on the run from from King Saul. The song helps us to reflect on truth and promises already spoken over us. They are good reminders to rest in while suffering.

“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” – 1 Peter 3:10-12, ESV

Expect suffering for being a Jesus follower

It is not if, but when. The world currently and historically makes fun of Christians (vs.13-14a). It is normal. It started with Jesus and continues with his followers. The reason for this suffering is that the cross is foolishness to those who don’t know Christ.

“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed.” – 1 Peter 3:13-14a, ESV

Answer suffering with grace

Grace offers others what they do not deserve. When we respond to suffering and slander with grace, it puts our enemies to shame (vs.14b-17). The answer is not heaping more coals onto the fire, but to snuff it out with grace. It is God’s will that we suffer, but also that we suffer graciously. One who has received grace himself can freely give it to others too.

“Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” – 1 Peter 3:14b-17, ESV

The blessing of suffering is not suffering itself or getting even with those who cause your suffering. When you become a follower of Jesus you put yourself in the way of ridicule and rejection. However, as a Christian you are in good company. The blessing in suffering is helping the world see another way. The way of Jesus and his followers.

 

Questions for Reflection:

  • How can suffering be a blessing?
  • How do people tend to respond when hurt by others? Why would Peter contrast repaying evil with blessing? What does repaying evil with blessing look like? How is this so countercultural? Why is it important to suffer well? How does our response put others to shame? What is the difference between shaming someone and letting your behavior put them to shame?
  • Which of the characteristics in verse 8 do you need to grow in? What are the opposites of these characteristics? How can the Holy Spirit help you to grow in these areas?
  • What does it mean to have unity of mind with other Christians? Does this mean you agree on everything? How is living with others, even in the church an exercise of unity of mind? What important things can all Christians agree on? How can we have unity of mind and what should we do when we don’t?
  • What is the relationship between doing good and suffering? Who receives the blessing for suffering for righteousness? How have you suffered for righteousness sake?
  • What are some temptations you face when suffering for righteousness? What are the consequences of giving into those temptations?
  • How does the gospel help you to understand and deal with suffering for Jesus?
  • How have you received blessing through suffering?
Advertisements

blessed

Your Blessed Life Now

  • “We are a blessed.”
  • “We live in a blessed nation.”
  • “Count your blessings.”
  • “God bless you.”

These are a few of the praises we hear as anthems in our personal arenas. I am so blessed that I don’t even know what being blessed means anymore. Blessed has become as shallow as the word love. As we enter the book of Ephesians we see blessing defined.

EPH 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

Paul begins his letter by blessing God for pouring down on His people every spiritual blessing in Christ. The word blessed [Εὐλογητὸς, eulogy] simply means praise. “Blessed” in the NT always refers to God as Creator and Father [Rom. 1:25; 2 Cor. 1:3; 11:31]. Ephesians 1:3–14 is one long sentence, but in one breath Paul empties rich praises from the caverns of his soul praise for God’s grace. It should be noted that there are no commands in this passage telling us how to live only a praise song showing us how to lift up Christ.

Eulogy to Praise a Living God

This sentence is a eulogy for what God has done and giving Him the glory He is due. Normally a eulogy is for someone who is dead, but God is not dead. This eulogy is an enormous and extremely humbling list of all “spiritual blessings” God has blessed His followers “in Christ” [x11 in 1:3-14]. I am the beneficiary of a blessed inheritance now and later that is literally: out of this world.

One can also observe how the Trinity works together in our salvation, as seen in this chart:

Who gives the spiritual blesses? What is the spiritual blessing? How is this a spiritual blessing?
FATHER [vs.3-6] chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” [v.4] Before we were created God chose us to be His children. Blessed are those who respond to His grace.
“predestined us for adoption” [v.5] God invites us to become His sons and daughters. We become children of the King with all the benefits of the kingdom. God lovingly rules and reigns as our Abba Father. He willed it.
What is to be our response? “to the praise of His glorious grace” [v.6]
SON [vs.7-12] redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses” [v.7] Christ purchased our salvation through His blood—the perfect sacrifice for sin [cf. 1 Cor.6:20; Gal.3:13; 4:5].  My sin had a debt I could not pay and Christ paid the ransom with His life.
makes known to us the mystery of His will” [vs.8-9] Through Christ we have the capacity to understand and know the will of God. Jesus made God’s plan visible to the entire world.
“we have obtained an inheritance” [vs.10-11] Through Christ I am an heir of all that God owns. What does God own? Everything. You cannot put a price on everlasting life—it’s priceless.
What is to be our response? “to the praise of His glory” [v.12]
HOLY SPIRIT [vs.13-14] sealed” [v.13] At salvation the Holy Spirit declares that we are beneficiaries of all the above, right now. We do not have to wait for it. He has given us His stamp of approval as a guarantee.
inheritance” [v.14] There are some things we cannot have just yet, but the Holy Spirit let us know we can bank on Him [cf. 1 Peter 2:9].
What is to be our response? “to the praise of His glory” [v.14]

Think about the lengthy list of blessings we have in Christ. It is infinitely better than Bill Gates and Warren Buffet dumping their wills in my lap. How do you respond to God’s grace? Are you amazed?Are you caught up in a chorus of praise with Paul? Does the Almighty God who has masterminded your salvation move you? This melodic eulogy that sounds a mountainous symphony of my salvation stuns me. God is blessed for revealing His gracious redemptive plan. Syntactically and structurally, the mystery God is revealed and summed up “in Christ.” Jesus gives meaning to the mystery because He is the mystery [cf. Colossians 1:20-22]. Therefore, the crescendo of this eulogy trumpets glory to God because He is:

EPH 1:9 making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Blessed Predestination

Paul reaches back before creation, before time began, and into eternity-past when only God Himself existed. Election is described with different facets of God’s gracious, saving purposes: “will” [1:5, 9, 11], “mystery” [1:9], “purpose” [1:9, 11], “appointment” [1:11], and “plan” [1:11].

What does it really mean that God has predestined and elected man? Does this mean man has no responsibility before God? What did He choose us to be? He chose “us” [i.e. saints, believers] to “be holy and blameless before Him,” [1:4] “predestined us for adoption as sons,” [1:5] and “be to the praise of His glory.”

Predestination is to a relationship with God the Father through his Son Christ. Election is always and only in Christ. God chose “us” in connection with Christ and our response to His work of redemption. God chose the believer for His glory and redemption is only accomplished though Christ. Being adopted into God’s family as sons [and daughters] is an incredible privilege, since we were at once “sons of disobedience” and “children of wrath” [cf. 2:2, 3].

Think of election and predestination like being given a special assignment at school or work. What does it feel like to be chosen for a special assignment? Election and predestination do not take away man’s responsibility in fact they enhance man’s responsibility. Election does bring privilege, but it also carries with it weighty responsibility. The divine purpose in our election was not simply to repair the damage done by sin but also to fulfill God’s original intention for humankind—to be conformed to the likeness of Christ [Rom. 8:29–30]. Therefore, I am responsible to respond to God’s gracious redemptive plan and praise Him for His glorious grace [1:13].

Marvelous Mystery Revealed

Think about the list of blessings we have in Christ. How do you respond? Are you amazed? Are you caught up in a chorus of praise with Paul? Does the Almighty God who has masterminded your salvation move you? This melodic eulogy that sounds a mountainous symphony of my salvation stuns me. God is blessed for revealing His gracious redemptive plan. Syntactically and structurally, the mystery God has revealed in Christ is the crescendo:

EPH 1:9 making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.

The mystery of life, everything and the meaning of our existence are solved in Christ. Through Christ I can be a child of the King, live eternally with Him, and have the hope to live holy and blameless before Him. This plan of God revealed in Christ put into poetry makes me what to shout with Paul, “To the praise of God’s glorious grace. To the praise of God’s glorious grace. To the praise of God’s glorious grace.” [1:6, 12, 14]