Suffering As Christ Did (1 Peter 4:16)
[Yet] if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. —1 Peter 4:16
As a father of five sons, I have uttered the phrase “Take it like a man” to them from time to time when difficulty or hardships have come their way. Certainly I have offered more than that, but that little phrase has wrapped up in it—at least as we understand it in our household—the ideas of perseverance, endurance, and fortitude. Similarly, our Fighter Verse has a lot wrapped up within it.
Peter is writing in 1 Peter to the scattered Christians around the Mediterranean region, telling them that they should expect to suffer. He also highlights the reality of who a Christian is and how faithful their God is. These realities call attention to how a Christian is to suffer, which brings us to our verse.
Christians will suffer, Peter says, and when we do, we should suffer in a way that glorifies God’s great name. What is that way? Peter is telling Christians to suffer like Christ did. All that Christ did, including how He suffered, glorified God’s great name.
How then should we who profess the name of Christ respond when suffering comes our way? When we lose our job, or when a friend betrays us, when our finances are bleakly depleted, or we are enduring yet another season of joy-robbing melancholy, how should we suffer so that God’s name is glorified? We should look to Christ who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross and despised the shame, knowing that He would soon be seated at the right hand of God the Father (Hebrews 12:2).
The writer of Hebrews continues in the very next verse exhorting Christians to consider Jesus—what He did, and how He did it—so that we won’t “grow weary or fainthearted” (Hebrews 12:3). Just as Jesus looked ahead to what awaited Him, so should we. Consider a few of the joy-inducing realities awaiting the Christian:
Endurance, character, and hope wrought in us through the Holy Spirit, who is ours (Romans 5:3-5)
Full justice being meted out upon the return of Jesus the God-man (Revelation 19:11-16)
The ending of all suffering, sorrow, and pain upon Christ’s return (Revelation 21:4)
Pleasures forevermore and joy unending upon Christ’s return (Ps 16:11)
God—our life-giving, joy-inducing, and all-satisfying Creator and Redeemer— dwelling with us forevermore (Revelation 21:3)
In our suffering, we should look to Christ who encouraged His disciples with words that echo verse 14: “In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33) and “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). The promises of Jesus are for the future and the here-and-now. We who are in Christ can be comforted by Christ's presence right now, even as we look forward to no more suffering when He returns in victory.
Rather than “take it like a man,” the Christian should “suffer like Christ.” We should remember to whom we belong; remember not only what He is doing in and for us in the midst of our suffering, but also what awaits us at the end of our suffering—God with us!
Read Romans 5:3-5 and James 1:2-4. What do these verses teach about Christian suffering?
Think about how God has described our future upon His return (Revelation 21-22). Consider the characteristics of God revealed in the Bible. What about them fills you with hope? How might your thoughts on those truths help you suffer in a way that glorifies God?
What can you do to stir your affections toward Christ so that when suffering comes you will glorify God?
Pat Dirrim has been in full time ministry since 2011. He and his wife Barbara have been married for 27 years. They have seven children, three of whom remain at home. They helped start Grace Fellowship 18 years ago and have worshipped there ever since, outside of the two years when they served as missionaries in Guatemala. They have been using Truth78 curriculum the entire time of their church’s existence and have introduced it at many other churches, as well as trained others how to use it.