Comfort for a Troubled Mind
There are two things we need to acknowledge about suffering—namely, that it does exist and it does hurt. Affliction is a reality in everyone’s life at one time or another. Such affliction takes on many forms, not the least of which is mental suffering.
When writing to fellow believers about suffering, Peter recognized that there are many and various ways in which we can be grieved. The specific sorrow that Peter’s first readers were burdened by was the mental anguish that comes from enduring hardship—but Peter was fully aware that there are all kinds of trials that buffet our minds and crush our spirits.
Because of the gospel, Peter doesn’t have to end on a note of hopelessness and despair. Instead, he gives us promises to which we can cling.
First of all, Peter reminds us that our trials last only “a little while.” Now, “a little while” needs to be understood in the light of eternity; even a lifetime is “a little while” compared to forever! Thus, a long period of suffering in this life is still, in God’s economy and in the framework of His plan and purpose for His children, “a little while.” That is not to say that such suffering will feel brief—especially when we are in the midst of it. For many, suffering means that a minute can seem like a day, a day can seem like a year, and a year can seem as if it’s never going to end. But we can and must cling to this promise: our current misery is not our eternal end. Suffering may fill your life today, but one day, “in the last time,” salvation will.
Secondly, we are able to say with confidence that in every moment of suffering, God is present. In the account of Saul of Tarsus’s conversion we find Jesus intimately identifying with His people’s suffering: he says, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4, emphasis added). How could Jesus say “me” when He was in heaven? It was because, through the Spirit, Christ was present with His people. He stood in solidarity with them. His Spirit was with them, guarding them as they walked through valleys toward their day of final salvation. He does the same for us.
You have in the Lord Jesus a Great High Priest who is perfectly able to sympathize with your sufferings (Hebrews 4:15). When you’re tempted to believe the lies that God has abandoned you or that no one else understands where you’ve been or what you’re going through, you can be confident in this: there’s “no throb nor throe that our hearts can know, but He feels it above.” And you can be confident in this, too: one day the sorrow will be behind, and only glory will lie ahead. That is a truth in which you can rejoice today, whatever today may hold.
Born Again to a Living Hope
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
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