For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
– 1 Peter 2:19-20 NASB
Peter’s first letter is not that long, yet the word “suffer” appears 16 times in it – at least once in each of its five chapters. This is significant because it demonstrates how Jesus changed Peter’s perspective on suffering.
It’s clear from the following exchange in the Gospel of Matthew that Peter had no expectation that Jesus would, or should, suffer for any reason at all.
From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
– Matthew 16:21-23 NASB
Jesus knew what Peter didn’t: that love often requires suffering.
One of the many things corrupted in modern life is language and one of the words most abused is the word “love.” So often, what people call love today is gussied-up lust. Moreover, modern love is fickle – placed here one day and there the next. True love is an unwavering commitment to the best interests of another.
God has an unwavering commitment to our best interests. That results in His suffering. He suffers our ingratitude, our faithlessness, our rebellion…in order to bless us in the end.
There is no virtue in suffering per se. No one should seek to suffer as if suffering will make you a better person in and of itself. Peter points out above that there is no credit for suffering when we deserve it. However, when we “do what is right and suffer for it,” then “this finds favor with God.”
The reason most people don’t keep doing right is that they want to avoid suffering.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord Jesus, help me do what is right today even though I may have to pay a price for doing so…(this is where you remain quiet in order to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.