1 Peter 2:18-23 (click here)
For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:19-23)
Suffering unjustly is a gracious thing. Just let that sink in. This is so backwards to how we think. Could we see the world in a more opposite way from which God sees it? How could suffering unjustly possibly be a gracious thing?
There are many ways to answer this question, but we’ll focus simply on two. First, when we suffer unjustly we are following in the footsteps of Jesus.
We actually come to know Christ more through our suffering. We know more of what he experienced on our behalf. We are able to identify with him, and know more of his heart as we literally experience it.
Further, we must depend more upon Christ when we suffer unjustly! We must depend upon his grace and his power. He is the only one that knows how to experience this kind of suffering and yet not sin. Thus, it is literally a gracious thing in that we need his grace to empower us to walk this road! None of the things we normally depend upon in this life will sustain us amidst unjust suffering…we must turn to Christ and Christ alone and depend upon him as never before.
Suffering is a path that leads us deeper into the gracious-loving-sustaining-power of Jesus.
Second, when we suffer unjustly we are storing up eternal treasure. In this text, Peter tells us that suffering for sin is of no “credit” to us…so when we suffer unjustly, it must be to our “credit.” We must be gaining something…something must be working toward our “credit.” What are we gaining?
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…” 2 Corinthians 4:17
All our suffering is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory. In other words, when you suffer…not only are you growing in your experience of the glory of Jesus right now, but your capacity to enjoy his glory forever is growing!
The great American pastor-theologian Jonathan Edwards described our experience of God in heaven being like throwing various sized vessels (think buckets) into the ocean. We can rightly say that every bucket is equally full, but some still contain more water than others. Edwards point is that every person in heaven will be fully satisfied in God, but some people will have a greater capacity to enjoy him. That capacity will continue to grow for every one of us throughout eternity.
Suffering is one of the things that prepares our hearts for a greater capacity of knowing and enjoying Jesus. It is a gracious thing for God to expand our capacity to enjoy him forever!
Suffering is not a fun thing. It is not enjoyable. It is not to be sought after. But… suffering is still a gracious thing in the sight of God, for it increases our sight of him… could there be a greater grace?
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.