In our project of reading through the Bible by the end of this year we come to the first of two books written by the Apostle Peter. He experienced much suffering in his life of serving his Master, so it’s not surprising he would address the issue of suffering in his writing.
I remember reading about Charles McCleary, who on his first furlough as a missionary from Africa, said to friends, “When a bridge is built, some foundation stones must be laid beneath the water. If God wills that I should be one of the stones to build the bridge in Africa, and I must be buried there, I am ready.” Six months later he died, but his work lived on. His wife stayed and guided a tremendous ministry.
Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered much. His life was filled with pain. Yet He remained true to His heavenly Father and to His calling, “leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (I Peter 2:21).
When we follow Christ, suffering will be inevitable. God promised it, so don’t be surprised when it comes. Accept the fact that God has a purpose in our suffering. It sanctifies our faith. It brings us to the place of surrender and trust. Often it’s the only thing able to break our self-will. It identifies us with Jesus Christ’s earthly life, and provides the hope of sharing in His glory.
When danger and suffering confront us remember what J. Hudson Taylor once wrote: “The greatest mission is submission.” Never be surprised when we experience suffering for Christ.