Accidents and suffering are a part of life. That is what we have seen from our study of scripture. How can we get through such difficulties? What is the most important thing to remember during times of suffering? That is what we will consider in this final part of our study.
What is the most important thing to do in response to suffering?
- 1 Peter 4:7-11 – “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
The most important thing to do in response to suffering is “have a fervent love for one another.” The “love” spoken of here is a translation of the Greek term AGAPE and occurs 116 times in the New Testament. Once this term is translated, “feast of charity.”AGAPE love is literally a feast of love, loving affection, loving good will, and loving benevolence. When we are confronted with the pain and suffering of this world we need to throw our arms around the Lord and have a feast of loving deep fellowship with Him.
The adjective used to further describe this love is the word “fervent” means a love that doesn’t give up, a love that stretches to reach out to others, a love that is alive with hope!
The fervent love spoken of by Peter as being the top priority in times of suffering, according to Peter, should result in prayer for others, hospitality toward others, serving others in God’s grace, being guided by God’s word and all of this aimed at bringing glory to God. What is the most important thing to do in the midst of suffering? The most important thing is to love with a love that is alive with the living hope of Christ. Love with a love that never gives up. Both the one suffering and the one ministering to the sufferer is to love. No matter what, love in God’s living hope. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). Love! The hope of God doesn’t disappoint because He pours out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who He has given to us (Romans 5:5). Love!
There is right and wrong suffering. Peter wrote the following inspired words about right and wrong suffering:
- 1 Peter 4:12-19 – “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, 1 Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.”
Peter tells us that suffering and trials should not be thought of as “strange” or uncommon, they will inevitably come (4:12). As mentioned earlier, Paul said we could count on being persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). Peter says that the sufferer should actually rejoice in the fact that they are learning about Jesus and getting closer to Him in their suffering (4:13). Peter says that if you are reproached because of your witness for Christ, it is evidence that "the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (4:14). You see if the Spirit is not resting on you and you’re no different than anyone else, you probably won’t experience being persecuted or suffering for Christ’s sake and you definitely will miss out on any blessing God intends to bring in and through the suffering experience. While it is good to suffer for Christ, it is bad and useless to suffer for sins you’ve committed like murder, stealing, and doing evil (4:15). The last verses of this section are an exhortation by Peter to suffer rightly (4:16-18). When we suffer therefore, let it be according to God’s will, and let good come from it (4:19).
We don’t have all the answers. There’s a poem by an unknown author I came across that helps us to understand the benefit of not having all the answers. Here it is:
If you never felt pain,
Then how would you know that I'm a Healer?
If you never went through difficulties,
How would you know that I'm a Deliverer?
If you never had a trial,
How would you call yourself an overcomer?
If you never felt sadness,
How would you know that I'm a Comforter?
If you never made a mistake,
How would you know that I'm forgiving?
If you knew all,
How would you know that I will answer your questions?
If you never were in trouble,
How would you know that I will come to your rescue?
If you never were broken,
Then how would you know that I can make you whole?
If you never had a problem,
How would you know that I can solve them?
If you never had any suffering,
Then how would you know what Jesus went through?
If you never went through fire,
Then how would you become pure?
If I gave you all things,
How would you appreciate them?
If I never corrected you,
How would you know that I love you?
If you had all power,
Then how would you learn to depend on me?
If your life was perfect,
Then what would you need Me for?
We don’t have all the answers. God has planned it that way. He has given us enough so that we have to depend upon Him (e.g. Deuteronomy 29:29). Trust Him for He is worthy of your trust. Depend and lean on Him for there is no One stronger. Pour out your heart to Him because there is no one so patient and compassionate to listen to you. He is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.
Why does God allow accidents and suffering? God allows accidents and suffering because He loves us and wants as many people to be saved eternally from their sin as possible. This is a hard state of affairs. It is the consequence of sin. But it is a necessary arrangement until God says enough. While God carries through His patient plan in loving longsuffering, all is not lost. God can bring good even from suffering. When we understand that suffering can be used by God and that it isn’t pointless, it gives us a living hope to go through it. My prayer is that we trust God and rely on His living hope as we inevitably go through trials in our lives. I pray we also share the living hope we have with those suffering who have yet to receive God’s living hope. And I pray we offer ourselves to God in a way that if He chooses to allow suffering in our lives, the living hope, living in us, will bring glory to His name.
In conclusion, don’t forget, if you are suffering as the result of objective or planetary effects of sin or because of the personal effects of sin, I encourage you to look to Jesus. Remember what God tells us in Psalms. In psalms it states, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1-2). Turn to the Lord in whatever state you are. He is your Source of help.