So many people seem to be able to relate to the apostle Peter. His zeal for Jesus coupled with his failures at critical times make him a beloved figure in the Bible. Everyone has experienced the “high” of Peter’s passion and the “low” of his failures making him someone who we can easily empathize with.
One of the things that Peter speaks about we have all experienced in life: suffering.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:3-7
Suffering and persecution can cause either growth or bitterness. The response of the individual determines the result. Since no one is exempt from suffering or persecution, it is important for us to learn how to successfully navigate these realities. Successful navigation of suffering and persecution is the primary lesson of First Peter.
Peter begins his letter by pointing out a reality as powerful as the certainty of persecution. The reality he speaks of is important to the navigation of suffering.
First, he reminds the believers that:
- They are equipped to handle anything they face.
The trials of the present or those in the future have already been seen by the foreknowledge of God. Nothing catches Him off guard. God is not making plans “on the fly” but has a plan for (let’s make this personal) you that is from all eternity. God has seen every move by the enemy in advance and has already prepared His move that brings about “checkmate”. You are the elect of God. That means you are chosen for this moment. You are chosen to overcome this moment, not to be defeated by your sufferings. You have been born again which means every aspect of your character that would spell defeat for you has been broken off of you and you are being sanctified by the Spirit of Jesus. The very aspects of Jesus that brought Him through His time of trial victoriously are being worked into you at this very moment! You are covered by, washed in, and regenerated by the blood of Jesus! You are not facing what you are going through as “Parkey Cobern: sometimes ok and sometimes not”, you are going through this as a regenerated child of God under the authority of the Spirit with goodness and mercy running right beside you! You have died to what defeats you and are alive to the power of God!
- They are guaranteed to win!
Let’s make this personal again: Peter reminds us that we have an inheritance reserved in heaven for us that cannot be messed up by Satan or you: an inheritance that cannot lose its value over time, like some 401K weakened by bad circumstances, nor is can it just disappear on you like some of the people and things you value in life. Your victory and the accompanying spoils are kept in heaven for you, guarded by a God who has already kicked the devil out of heaven with no chance of his interference in the future!
To overcome whatever you are facing, it is essential that you remember that your victory is assured!!!!!
- God, not the devil is in control of how “hot” things get!
To successfully navigate persecution and suffering, you must realize that God, not the devil is in control of how “hot” things get in your life! If you believe Satan is controlling things, then you will get discouraged because you know how full of hate he is. But, if you know that God is in control of your trial, then you realize that love is actually controlling your fate and that the trial is destined, not for your destruction but to work toward your growth and the promotion of God’s glory!
Verse 5 tell us that we are “kept” by the power of God through faith for salvation to be revealed. This is an important statement. The word “kept” means that we have a military like guard around us which has been authorized to use whatever force that is necessary to ensure that the will of God is done in our lives! Do you see them? They are present and will fulfill their mission!
Verse 5 also states that our faith in God is assuring an outcome for us known as salvation. The word “salvation” means deliverance! The outcome of your situation is deliverance!
Another truth of verse 5 is that this deliverance is destined to be revealed! So, when you put this all together, you know that:
I’m equipped to handle anything I face!
My victory is guaranteed and reserved for me!
God, not the devil is in control of what is happening to me!
I am guarded by angels authorized to use whatever force necessary to fulfill the will of God!
Deliverance is my destiny!
In the perfect time, I will see the manifestation!