Sunday evening services at Calvary Baptist Church have been focusing on the Apostle Peter, as he is found in Scripture. Last Sunday we began the study of his first epistle, 1 Peter. Our senior pastor suggested that we read 1 Peter at least once a week through this study in an effort to maintain familiarity with the text. I began that process yesterday. I will tell you that I am partial to Peter’s epistles, for whatever reason I enjoy reading them, and he is one of my favorite people in Scripture. Let me provide a quick, and perhaps woefully inadequate, background of this first epistle: Peter is writing to mainly Jewish believers, scattered around the region due to persecution. (one sentence hardly does the background justice, but in a very small nutshell, that is what the background is) Persecution…trials…testing…suffering. All of these realities are common in the book of 1 Peter. It is in chapter four that I found a verse that I have been meditating on since yesterday morning. I encourage your interaction with me as you read it and contemplate it’s implications.
1 Peter 4:19 (esv) Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
Here are some basic thoughts I’ve started with, and would encourage your response to:
- “those who suffer” – understandably in the context of persecution here. What are the other hardships that we also might consider “suffering”? Relationship struggles, provision struggles, physical disabilities and struggles, financial burdens, etc? Can you identify with “suffering”? Most can, and if not right now, either have in the past or will in the future.
- “those who suffer according to God’s will” – think about this: God is orchestrating, allowing, permitting, bringing about the very hardship that you are enduring. What does this say about our God? Is he cruel and sadistic? What is his purpose in bringing us into hardship? He is sovereign. He could have sovereignly kept us out of the hardship as well – so, the hardship must be for a purpose, his purpose: His glory, our good.
- “entrust their souls” – those in the midst of suffering under the sovereign control of God himself should…trust. They should give their very person, their entirety, for safekeeping. Many times in the midst of suffering we pull ourselves in and erect walls of self-protection. Peter is explaining that we need to entrust ourselves to something, Someone, else for safekeeping.
- “to a faithful Creator” – Who can you trust? You can trust your very existence to a faithful God. God has always fulfilled his promises to his children. He is ever present, ever faithful, ever loving. The faithfulness of God is one of his most comforting characteristics. This is the One whom you can trust in the midst of hardship! Why did Peter go on to describe God as “Creator” in this passage on trust during suffering? Creator implies intimate knowledge. God knew us before we were conceived, created our physical being in the womb and knows every detail of our lives. What impact does this have on my being able to trust him during my suffering? The One who intimately knows who I am, my make-up and limitations, knows how much I can “handle” in the suffering; he knows my strengths and weaknesses; he is never going to allow more than I can handle! Praise Him…Trust Him!
- “while doing good” – What an odd way to end this thought. I would have ended the verse at trusting God, the Creator. Peter goes on and says, “Keep on doing what is right even in the midst of your hardship”. There is no time to sit on the sidelines! The temptation, naturally, is to focus on self during suffering. Peter says that we should rather, trust God with our being, in the midst of suffering, acknowledging that he is in control, faithful and ever-aware of our situation, and…keep doing good at the same time. Keep the focus outward. Focus on God, focus on others – (I am not suggesting that caring for one’s self during hardship is forbidden, let the reader understand) – do not yield to the temptation to be self-seeking during your suffering.
What a goldmine this verse is! There is so much to be unpacked and discovered. Continued meditation on it yields even more personal application for me. How about you? As you think through this passage, what nuggets of truth are you finding that would apply to your situation? Encourage one another as we interact through this wonderful epistle!