Last time we saw that 1 Peter 1:6-9 is a critical Scripture to show us that the suffering that God sends to His people has a precious purpose. The Apostle Peter reveals this precious purpose by teaching us 1) Sufferings are different, but providence is the same. 2) Your faith is too precious to be pain-free. 3) Suffering comes for the purpose of more love for your Savior.
I pointed you to several places in the Bible to fill your spiritual tank so that you will be ready when pain comes to remember that it is a fresh example that your faith is too precious to God to be pain-free. Another specific example from the Bible about suffering is in Job 2. We remember that in Job 1 we see that in one day, there was wave after wave of tragedy and death of family and grandchildren and servants and loss of all your money and retirement plans. Job suffered the “various trials” described by 1 Peter 1:6. Yet when we get to Job 2, we learn Satan is upset with God that Job still was a man of faith amid all that suffering. Satan accused Job of only loving God for giving him personal health. But if you take away Job’s health, make him have personal disease, THEN Job will stop living by faith. That is TOO MUCH PAIN for a Christian to face with faith.
Well, was Satan correct? We see that Job’s wife failed the test—she started to agree with Satan (though she didn’t consciously realize she was agreeing with Satan) that if you suffer in certain ways, then it is becomes ok to get angry at God, curse Him, give up, and just wait to die. Job, however, shows us what it is to live by faith, even when it hurts. Job was in so much pain he was breaking pots and using the sharp edges to scrape the boils and scabs from his body. Yet, Job said to his wife, and through Job’s words God the Holy Spirit speaks to each of us today, “shall we accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10) Job doesn’t ignore that he is in pain. He doesn’t say, “Just forget the pain and pretend it’s not there, or it will go away as soon as I pray a special healing prayer and say Amen.” The pain is there. He mourned and cried and tore his clothes just days earlier when his children and grandchildren died. But Job knew that somehow, the Sovereign God was still the Sovereign God. He is in charge. My life will NOT be pain-free. My life will NEVER be 100% safe, 100% free of disease. I will have good days and bad days. But they will always be God’s days, the days the Lord has made, so we will rejoice and be glad in them.
God wants you and me to have the faith that Job expressed. God sends us painful days, not pain-free days, so that we can realize how precious our faith is—faith is what allows us to cling to God when we have NOTHING else to hang on to. This is why in our pain-filled days, reading the Bible and our catechism is the BEST thing we can do. Having someone read it to us if we are in too much pain or confusion from the suffering is fine. Using hymns and songs of worship as well will help to transform our pain into precious moments of faith.
- The purpose of more love for your Savior. (verses 8-9) All of this suffering results in the glorious purpose of God for us to grow in more love for Jesus. Read those verses carefully. Notice WHEN we express this deeper love for Jesus. 1) when we “have not seen God.” 2) when we DO see “various trials” that are “grieving” us. When Jesus shows up at the last trumpet, He descends from Heaven, all the dead rise from their graves, and we go to be with Him forever—then we will definitely have more love for Jesus. When we can see Him. But now we don’t see Jesus, in the flesh. Yet we can still love Him, and we do still love Him. That is faith.
Yet this passage adds a layer to that faith. You can have faith in the Jesus you can’t see, even when it is NOT a sunny day—when it is a cloudy day, when there is a tornado outside, or inside your heart, or in your family and relationships, or in any combination of sufferings. Then, when all you can see is the darkness of your pain—right there is the moment you can love Jesus.
The Bible doesn’t make light of our pain. But it shows us how light our pain is compared to the great weight and eternal joy that is coming! (see 2 Corinthians 4:16-18) Some sufferings will be removed in this life. Some will switch to another kind. Some will linger for the rest of our experience here. But no matter what, God has this precious purpose—to make you and me love Jesus even more. To make us love ourselves and our health and our pain-free days less, and to find the “joy inexpressible and full of glory” in our salvation in Jesus.
So, my fellow suffering saints, this is God’s message to us in our times of suffering—whatever kind of suffering they may be, now, or in the days and years ahead. He has a precious purpose—our faith is too precious to God. Jesus loves you too much to let you stay where you are—He wants to make your faith more shiny, more glorious, stronger and deeper, more winsome and attractive to a world that is stuck with suffering and that has NO HOPE in their suffering. We have the only comfort. Praise God for that, and go tell them if they want hope in suffering they need to come see the precious love of Jesus for sinners. Amen!