I like rewards. I’ll be the first to “go against the grain” in admitting it. It is extremely difficult for me to feel I deserve a reward and not get it. That’s called “pride”… And I’m not proud of it. But I tell you this to remind you that I am human and anything but perfect.
1 Peter 5:10 says And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you this eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm,strengthen, and establish you.
I wanted to go through that a bit more… First it tells me that God allowed suffering in some of his strongest believers. James was executed “by sword” but not before witnessing to his executioner to the point that he believed and was executed beside James. Peter was crucified upside down, a long, humiliating and painful death. Andrew was hanged. Philip was tortured and then crucified. The list could go on, but I think my point suffices to say that God allows suffering though He doesn’t enjoy it.
Doesn’t that seem backwards sometimes? Shouldn’t those who have “strong faith” and do many “good works” in Christ be excluded from suffering? In my mind, by all ‘fairness’ rules, that makes sense. But my mind is not God’s. And my wisdom on ‘fairness’ is not His. God can see how my suffering now may be to the benefit of bringing nonbelieving people, or restoring someone with weak faith to strong, to His kingdom because of my suffering. Sometimes, all pride aside, that ‘ weak faith’ person is me.
So we have established that God allows suffering but the verse specifies that suffering is only “for a little while”. Suffering does have an end date, even when we can’t see it or feel it. He won’t allow us to be overtaken by endless suffering.
Because He is “the God of all grace”. Grace, meaning the unmerited favor of God toward man. Grace meaning that God loves us enough to stop the suffering before it overtakes us. He uses the suffering for His good and for a purpose. To me that is better than suffering for no reason and no ones benefit.
So what happens when we are tired and broken and hurting from the suffering we have endured? When we are laying on the battle field, unsure of how to get up or where to go. That is when God, “will himself restore, confirm,strengthen, and establish you.”
He will restore us to who we are to be in Him. He will rebuild us, maybe into something brand new.
He will confirm us. He will help us to know that our suffering was for a purpose. Maybe it will be in the little things. A butterfly, a cloud that reminds us of our suffering, a verse at just the right time.
He will strengthen us. Oftentimes I have found that this is with strength we never knew we could posess because of Him. He will give us ground to stand on when we are opposed and give us confidence to take another step when we are unsure of ourselves.
He will establish us. Maybe it will be a new position in our life or job, maybe a new ministry. It quite possibly will be in a place we never felt very confident in before our suffering, but have come to grow in because of it.
Our suffering has a purpose. We must fight through and endure it in the moment, knowing that God will give us strength, endurance, confirmation and restoration at the end of this. It will be used for His purpose and in His timing. Oftentimes, we may never see the reward in our lifetime.
Galatians 6:9 Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up. (ESV)
I attended a funeral where a loved one reminisced about how this man was so kind and would never take monetary compensation for all the generosity and goodness he passed on. How he lived by loving others. But you know, then someone else talked about how this mans grandfather was the same way, and his father… And I realized that because of one man, the grandfather, living a life of service for others and taking no monetary compensation, and doing it out of the goodness of his heart… His legacy and his example influenced people for the next 2 generations, and still is impacting others even today. His sacrifice impacted thousands because he lived by love. He never saw the “end result” but God used this as a reward for so many more than one man could have touched alone in his lifetime.
It was certainly a lesson for me in living by kindness and grace in Christ, and a good reminder that we don’t know the length of impact our actions will have. We just don’t know.
James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (NIV)
Trials and suffering are exhausting and beyond the hardest of hard in some moments. It is anything but “easy”, and in many moments, the ‘easy’ is what you (and I) crave so deeply. But know that enduring this moment, this day of suffering, is for a purpose that only can be orchestrated by the most amazing Orchestrator ever- Our one and only Lord. The same one who uses Peter and James and Andrew and Philip’s suffering to teach us today. The same One who used that grandpa to teach his son and later grandpa about generosity and kindness. The same One who is teaching me about enduring this suffering for His glory and purpose.
So keep going. Keep pushing. Keep seeking. Keep your faith. And one day, we will come to the end of our “time” and be able to help others through their times of suffering… because of this.