The Road Marked With Suffering Is the Road to Glory (1 Peter 5:9-11)
Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. —1 Peter 5:9-11
If you’ve ever watched a nature show, you’ve likely witnessed a lion attacking a zebra. Lions prowl around, carefully selecting their prey, and at just the right moment they attack. That’s precisely how Peter pictures the devil in 1 Peter 5:8. But in verse 9, Peter commands, “Resist him, firm in your faith!” Now, I’ve seen enough nature shows to know that there are not many zebras that resist lions. Most of them get devoured. So, how are we supposed to resist the prowling, devouring devil by faith? Peter provides us with two keys by which to resist the devil: our reality and God’s promise.
Our Reality—Christian Suffering is Universal (1 Peter 5:9)
When we believe the lies of the world (we deserve comfort and ease) or of prosperity theology (the faithful are blessed, while the faithless suffer), then we’ll be surprised when we face suffering. But suffering is not strange; it’s a normal part of the Christian life (4:12). If we think, as Christians, we’re exempt from suffering, then we’ll be powerless to resist the devil when suffering comes. We’ll be tempted to doubt God, both that He is in control and that He cares for us. But when we recognize that we’re not alone in our suffering as Christians, then we can continue, by faith, entrusting ourselves “under the mighty hand of God” (5:6).
God’s Promise—The Road Marked with Suffering is the Road to Glory (1 Peter 5:10)
Peter doesn’t just leave us with the reality of Christian suffering. He arms us with a promise: the road marked with suffering is also the road to glory. As Christians, we are called to suffer because “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). The word “example” in verse 21 is a word that refers to letters children traced in order to learn how to write. Jesus has left us an example to trace—the road marked with suffering. He was abused, mocked, crucified, and buried. But Jesus’ example doesn’t end in suffering. He rose again on the third day; then, after 40 days (Acts 1:3), he ascended into heaven where he was exalted to glory at the right hand of the Father (Acts 1:9). In 1 Peter 5:10, Peter reminds us that, while we follow Jesus’ footsteps into suffering (our reality), after a little while of suffering, we will also follow Jesus’ footsteps into glory (God’s promise). For the gracious God who has called us to salvation, “will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” Yes, we will suffer, but our suffering is only a little while compared to the promise of eternal glory.
So, as the devil prowls around trying to devour us, we stand firm in our faith, entrusting ourselves “under the mighty hand of God” (5:6), putting our suffering in perspective of God’s eternal promise for us in Christ, so that “at the proper time he may exalt us” (5:6). You see, suffering is normal, but it is only temporary. And after a little while, God will bring us home. “To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (5:11).
Do you find Christian suffering strange? What are some ways you can grow in your awareness of Christian suffering around you, in the United States, in the world?
How does understanding that we are following Jesus’ footsteps not only into suffering but also into glory help you endure and entrust yourself under the mighty hand of God?