Vol. 8-40 – 10-01-2023 – Life is Hard
Life is Hard
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. –1 Peter 4:12-13
I thought that we were supposed to be happy. You know, like the blessing thing in Matthew 5. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the gentle, the ones thirsting for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted for the sake of righteousness, and the insulted.
Is life so hard that happiness is the sought-after thing? Or are we missing something? Yes!
Have you ever heard a preacher preach a message on suffering? That every believer should be willing to suffer? And it is biblical? Do we all relate to 1 Peter 4:12-13? Are you staying “with the idea of suffering for Jesus?”
Some believers do not like to think about that. Do not want to hear it. Have other ideas about life as a follower of Christ? This is the 21st century. We have advanced. We have instant stuff. Insulated houses with high-tech HVAC. Sound systems. The newest technology in appliances can be controlled with an iPhone. And on-and-on.
Suffering is when you have three cars and a garage that fits two.
There are some Christians who promote if you are not suffering for Christ, you are probably not a Christian. Divorce in the family. Loss of children. Unemployment. A family member with depression. Heartbreaks. Constant pain in the body. Death. We should move on; reading this is depressing.
Is 1 Peter written to discourage us? No. The book is written in an era when there was great pressure on believers in their attempts to live through life. Notice that the intro verses do not use the word happy or happiness. The root word of both those words is happening. Happenings only last for a short while. That is the way happiness is. But not joy. Did you see that word? What is it modifying? Sufferings. Rejoice; be joyful, insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings. That you may also rejoice, and be glad, when His glory is revealed.
This was written during the time of Nero. You know, the one that had Christians coated in pitch (oil-tar), placed on stakes, and then lit to provide lighting to his garden. (He also fed Christians to the lions while spectators watched. But we have it rougher. Especially when our smartphone batteries wind down.
Life, however, has always been hard. You should expect that in a world that is controlled by Satan and ill-functioning leaders. If you do not feel the pressure of unhappiness and struggle now, you will.
Peter says we should not be surprised.
We do live in a broken world. It is filled with broken people. Life, generally, is hard.
Therefore, I intend always to remind you of these qualities though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure, you may be able at any time to recall these things. –2 Peter 1:12-15
If you read 1:3-11 you will get a clear picture of what Peter intends to continue reminding his readers—about their effort, and about their walk.
What if the marketplace had a rating on the spiritual wealth of a stock? You could value the stock you might like to purchase at its true value before the Lord. Don’t hold your breath. And then there are the churches. In general, how are the churches of our nation responding spiritually? Biblically? Doctrinally? If they were an organization with stock sold in the marketplace, how many shares would you buy? How many churches operate like the church of Laodicea? (Revelation 3).
When I was a young boy, I attended VBS. Heard great stories. Did a lot of neat crafts. Sang. Dressed in costume for Friday evening. Then there was the follow-up thing. The teachers we had stopped by the house the week after VBS. They were checking my interest in being baptized and joining the church. I was not interested in their “joining plan.” They did leave a Bible. I had it for years. It did not wear out.
If you want to know what happened to me, it is in an earlier blog. I was a young adult when I received Christ as my Savior.
I find it interesting how faithful Peter was. Not in the beginning. After his tomb experience (read about that in the Gospel of John). That is part of my story as well. Peter mentions some things in this short book about his spiritual legacy. Did you know that we all have one of those? It varies according to how we live our lives. If a believer, we have something to offer that is valuable.
So, Peter says he wants to remind us of what he has already written. You have already read that.
One of the reasons I write these blogs is to connect with people about Jesus the Christ. Everyone needs to know Him. The blog is a way to reach people and remind them of what God has done. In a few short weeks, I will begin to send out a blog sequence of the legacy of the Advent Season. I go a step further. Instead of four Sundays, I write for five Sundays. Hope. Joy. Love. Peace. And, Hope Still. Jesus is coming back, I remind readers. I have been writing the blog now for 16 years. Seems like I just started.
Peter was good at discipling. That is a major word in our Community Group Leadership gatherings. Discipling is a major effort to remind people what Jesus has said, and what He expects from our lives. When we disciple, there are some keys to working with the ones God privileges us to engage with:
- Focus on key Scripture passages for memory and teaching.
- Remind and provide an accountability track for others to read the Scriptures through each year (make sure they have a Bible).
- Live out your own life from the teachings of Scripture.
- Help those you disciple to keep a journal, so they can leave a legacy.
- Pray with and teach to pray.
- Help them to know their gifts and talents so they can serve well.
- Help them to stay connected with the local church, being mission-minded.
Have you really noticed the people who live in our broken world? Or do you just read about them; or hear about them? Life is hard. It will continue to be as long as this world exists. One day it will be burned up—not because of “climate change,” but due to the consummation; the end of days.
The next time you enter a discussion of the hard situations of life, you can opt to respond with faith and hope. Nothing is a surprise to God, and it should not be a surprise to us either. He, God, has told us about it in His Word which spans thousands of years.
If we, like Peter, intentionally speak the seeds of faith into others, there could be a ripple effect for our world and into eternity.
Give some thought regarding people in your life who need influenced for eternity. You may be the only difference they will hear.
Take the first step. It will be the first of many. Faith legacy never depreciates in value.