A perspective.

(Part three of a series reflecting on John 17, Acts 1, and 1 Peter 5. See part one and part two.)

IMG_2571.JPGPeter says that there is testing. Like Jesus suffered for doing the right thing, we will suffer as we do the right thing. So don’t be surprised.

But he also says, be prepared.

  1. Humble yourself before God. Not humiliate, not demean. But humble. Recognize that just because we can’t explain what God might be thinking, doesn’t mean that God isn’t God. Be willing to say, “I don’t know what’s happening.” I don’t think that this means always scapegoating God for our situations by saying, “God has me in this situation for a reason.”As I said earlier, sometimes the reason that I’m in this situation is that maybe, through consequence pain, I will to learn to stop kicking the slab.
  2. Cast your anxiety on God. Like a heavy backpack tossed on a wagon that will give us a ride.
  3. Be alert and thoughtful. As best as you can, don’t keep numbing your thinking with distractions of any variety.
  4. Know that there’s an enemy. Sometimes our frustration and fear come because someone knows our weakness and exploits it. Like a cat is distracted with a laser pointer, like a mouse is seduced into the trap with cheese, the enemy of our souls distracts us.And sometimes, that distraction means raising questions about God in our suffering. “A good God wouldn’t treat you this way, would he?” “You’ve worked so hard to be good, and now this. God must not like you.” Those are lies. But they work. Unless we are alert and thoughtful.
  5. Know you are part of a community. Everyone everywhere who follows God faces suffering. For now. And once we begin to understand that it’s not just me, the lies about how bad we must be become clearly lies.
  6. God will make you strong. Peter knew this personally. Because he’s the one who denied Jesus three times and was still loved and still brought into community.

And so we close with Peter’s words:

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.