Good Suffering

Journal Entry // November 22, 2021

For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

1 Peter 3:17 ESV

In my everyday living and journey through this life, I don’t always truly believe what Peter is telling us here in this passage. It’s truly difficult to really wrap my mind around this truth. I have such a warped understanding of what love means and I carry this over to how my heavenly Father works in my life. I like to think of love in terms of 1 Corinthians 13, but from a selfish standpoint. Meaning that it is good and proper for my expectation to be set on how others should treat and love me. Even carrying it over to say that if God loves me, then I will be happy and at ease.

But this is not true at all. Peter tells me that sometimes God calls me to suffer and go through adversity and trials simply because God calls me to suffer. Sometimes the path of holiness leads through a valley of pain and heartache. Even when I do everything “right” I may still suffer in this world. If God so wills this suffering, then my response should be, “amen.” I should use this opportunity to lean into Jesus and rest in his love.

Yet, I find myself anxious and discontent at these times. Confused and angry. I want to lash out at God because I am “doing” all the right things and still I am being punished. In my mind it all seems so unfair and unjustified. But that is so far from the truth. I have to renew my mind at all times and keep telling myself the gospel.

When God brings suffering into my life, even suffering for righteousness sake, then this avenue of expressing his love for me is an important moment. He didn’t bring suffering lightly and without reason. I need to preach this to myself regularly. These sufferings and trials and adversity, though difficult and demanding at the time, are temporary and with a purpose. God will not always reveal the purposes involved, but I can rest assured that it is for my good and his glory.

What is my response to suffering? Humility and prayer. I need to humbly seek the presence of Christ. These are the moments to draw near to my heavenly Father. These are the times to seek intimacy with Christ. I think of Psalm 23 telling me that he prepares a table of fellowship and communion in the midst of my enemies. During the hard and difficult times, Jesus meets me there. He doesn’t necessarily bring me out of it but meets me there in the middle of the trouble to have fellowship and communion. Like the eye of a hurricane, I can have peace and tranquility as the storm rages around me.

So I need to continually remind myself of the gospel. I need to remind myself of Christ’s suffering. I need to remind myself of Christ’s victory. I need to remind myself that Christ has redeemed me. I need to remind myself that Christ loves me perfectly and completely. That he will keep me safe and secure in his love as he brings me along this path leading to himself in heaven.