August 28, 2016
Do you remember your parents telling you that a little bit of suffering will do you some good? Mine did, and their intent was that I should learn how to react to tough situations. My father would say things like, “Life is hard, and you need to be tough to get through it.” “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” “Iron sharpens iron.” The reaction of a person to hardships will say a lot about their character. If you want to succeed in the secular world, your reaction to suffering must be to get tough, to use suffering to build tenacity, and determination, as well as confidence in your ability to face hardships. You become more self-confident and less dependent on others.
This is the opposite of the reaction that God wants from His children. As a believer faces persecution, God wants them to become more dependent on Him, and less dependent on themselves. God knows our weaknesses better than we do, and He wants to use our weakness to bring glory to His name.
2 Cor 12:9-10
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Paul says, “for when I am weak, then am I strong,” meaning I am strongest when I am leaning on God. So the answer to the question that I started the lesson with, How should a believer react to suffering, is they are to lean more on God.
What happens to our concern about persecution when we lean on God to carry us through persecution? Our concern becomes less and less the more we lean on God, and as my worry goes down, my heart is filled with joy in Christ. This is why Paul can say, Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Rejoicing in being persecuted for Christ’s sake is the theme that Peter has for us in the last half of this chapter, but he doesn’t go there yet. First, he builds the foundation that a believer needs in order to truly be able to rejoice when persecution comes.
Listen to this podcast to learn how the believer can use prayer to connect them to the power of the Holy Spirit of God, and it this power, God’s power, that will carry you through persecution.