“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)
When Peter wrote this letter, he intended to encourage the brothers and sisters in Christ. He wrote several recommendations, specially for those who were suffering.
Back then, the Christians were persecuted. In fact, there are still Christians all over the world today who are suffering and being persecuted because of their faith. If you want an example, check out this post I wrote about Helen Berhane.
I live in a free society. I can worship God and talk about Jesus and no one will punish me for that. I might hear jokes, but that’s just as far as it goes.
I live in a society that got used to this freedom, and we end up taking it for granted.
It is not hard to find people who start complaining and questioning God’s motives when they go through a hard time. “If God is good”, I hear them say, “how He allowed that to happen to me?”
Of course what they refer to is something they think is bad, and for some reason they think they didn’t deserve it.
But then I read apostle Peter’s letter, and I realize that there is something very wrong with our way of thinking.
People are in constant pursue of happiness, but they can’t even define what happiness means.
It seems that some time ago we started living in a fairy tale land, and we go through life expecting the “happily ever after”. And when something happens to disturb our “happily ever after”, we complain.
Peter had a quite different view:
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (1 Peter 4:12-14)
Did he really told us not to be surprised with ordeals? Actually, fiery ordeals? Why did he say that?
Because he understood that his own suffering was a way for him to participate in Christ’s suffering, and he felt honored to do that.
In fact, he lived what he preached. Tradition tell us that he died on a cross, much like Jesus, but he refused to die the same way His Savior died, so he asked to be crucified upside down.
For him, even dying a cruel death wasn’t a surprise, wasn’t a reason to complain about God or doubt Him. He considered it a honor to be able to do that, and he was looking for the eternity he would spend with the Lord. And that’s actually when the “happily ever after” begins, not now.
Our “happily ever after” begins when this life is over. Those who chose to live for God here will live with Him in eternity.
Peter knew, and we need to learn, what the true “happily ever after” is actually all about.
And when we get it, we will understand why Peter thought as he did about suffering here and rejoicing there, with the Lord. We will finally understand the true “happily ever after”.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)