The Call To Suffering

I Peter 2:18-21 “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

Text I Peter 2:20-21 “but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called.”

In the book of I Peter, one subject bearing attention is the mater of suffering. With respect to suffering, Peter emphasizes the call to suffering, “For even hereunto were ye called.” The word “called” means to call aloud, to bid, call forth so as to invite. With respect to this call, I want to examine three areas concerning the activity of suffering. There is a secular call; “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). Job said that soon after birth, a person has enough troubles to suffice for a lifetime! Suffering is the common lot of all men; the reason being, man’s association with sin. All the heartaches of man’s sojourn in this world can be traced back to man’s sin in the garden.

In addition to a secular call, there is a spiritual call; “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Timothy 3:12). Peter wants the believer to have a clear understanding of what they can expect; “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you” (I Peter 4:12). The “fiery trial” is not something that is foreign to the Christian life; it is not some strange guest that has come for a visit, but rather something that resides with us. In the process of “confirming the souls of the disciples”, Paul declared, “that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). The reason the saints can live with the expectations of suffering is our association with the Saviour; “The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). While there is the expectations of buffeting associated with being one of God’s children, there is also the expectations of a blessing; “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).

Finally, there is a saintly call; “ye take it patiently” (vs.20). It is difficult to understand why a certain element of society enjoys persecuting others unjustly. Having determined that there is no justification for the bitter attacks that yield the painful experience of suffering, the saints are encouraged to “take it patiently.” This principle is reinforced by the divine truth that it is the pleasure of the Sovereign, “this is acceptable with God” (vs.20), and the pattern of the Saviour, “leaving us an example” (vs.21). That the believer is to persevere and exhibit fortitude in the midst of suffering is the expectation of the Sovereign, and is illustrated by the example of the Saviour. The only reason that the saint can exhibit such expectations in suffering is our association with the Spirit.

While all are called to suffer, may those that have expressed faith in Christ “suffer as a Christian” (I Peter 4:16).