Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 1 Peter 4:12-14
One of the hardest things to swallow is suffering. I never enjoy it. Sure, I try to anticipate it, but who am I kidding? When it hits me, I feel like I got sucker punched in the gut gasping for air. There is a myriad of emotions that I go through: shock, denial, anger, frustration, despair. Despite all the negative things that come with suffering, that does not mean that the end of the story is a depressing one. If anything, the story of suffering should end in unbound glory.
I can’t help but think back to the book of Acts when the Church was born and the apostles were being persecuted for preaching the Gospel. They were put into prison, released by an angel from the Lord, and captured once again for questioning. The Jewish counsel demanded to know why the apostles refused to stop talking about Christ even though they were commanded to do so. I love Peter’s brazen response which is such a contrast to his moment of denying Christ: “We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.”
The Jewish leaders then proceeded to beat the apostles and forbade them from speaking Jesus’ name ever again. Picture these men who haven’t done anything wrong, but speak truth. They end up imprisoned, questioned, and beaten. Instead of feeling sorry for themselves or getting angry, they actually rejoiced because “they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.” If that wasn’t enough, this bolstered the apostles to go to the temple daily to preach the gospel, and they refused to stop preaching about Jesus Christ.
I really wish I was more like the apostles. I hope I can be half as joyful as them during my tribulations. I hope that I can count it a privilege and an opportunity of worship when I suffer in this world. Regardless of what I may go through in this life, it is nothing compared to the suffering of Christ when God’s entire wrath was poured on the Son. Because Christ endured the worst on this earth, I have the hope of the best in heaven to come. This present suffering is nothing in comparison to the glory to behold.