Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Eternal Perspective – 1 Peter 5:10-11

And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen. (NASB )

Enough with the suffering! How many times in 1st Peter has suffering been mentioned? He referred to our suffering thirteen times. He referred to Christ’s suffering six times. Do you think that Peter had a message for us regarding suffering? If you are ever confronted by a person who says that you lack faith if you are suffering, point them to the book of 1st Peter. Tell them to read it and explain why Peter continued to encourage the 1st century saints to endure and even consider suffering commendable before God (1 Peter 2:20.)

The great thing about this suffering is that it is only for a little while. Peter knew persecution. He had to flee for his life after he was imprisoned in Jerusalem (Acts 12:4-17.) Jesus told Peter that he would die for his faith (John 21:18-19.) Yet in the midst of this, Peter can say that the suffering is only for a little while.

Peter could speak of suffering as being temporary because he had an eternal perspective. He was looking past the events of this world and could see the eternal results. Just as an athlete endures pain and hardship during training so that he can compete in his sport, so we need to view the trials of this world as preparation to receive an eternity without suffering. Ps 16:11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (NIV)

Paul put it this way: 2 Cor 4:16-18 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (NIV)

Peter and Paul could focus on the eternal because they knew that God is the God of all grace and that He has called us to share in the eternal glory of Christ. They knew that God is concerned with each individual. God doesn’t delegate the job of maturing us to others. He is the one who is making sure that we are being developed into people who will be strong firm and steadfast. Ps 139:2-3 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. (NIV) Yes, He may use others in our lives but it is God who is making sure that His plan is being accomplished.

The only way to get through the trials is to make sure you understand who God is as well as the fact that He cares for you individually. Peter says that all dominion or power belongs to Him. Now, if you doubt God’s ability then you will not be confident when trials and sufferings take place. You will worry and fret because you don’t really believe that God is able to take care of you. You will look at the suffering as either your own lack of faith or God’s inability. Either removes all your hope for the future.

Your faith needs to have a proper understanding of God’s plan and that understanding is what Peter has hammered into this epistle over and over. You will suffer. That is the Christian way.

You need to understand that God is good and He has your best interests at heart. That means He will not settle for more now if that means less in eternity. He will not settle for an easy life now if that means less glory in eternity. He has the power and the dominion over all things and He knows how to use that for eternal good.

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