I admit it.  Sometimes I don’t think the verses that talk about “suffering” apply to me.

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you.”       1 Peter 5:10

I love that verse.  It’s powerful and reassuring about God’s purposes in trials.  But as I studied it the other morning, the “after you have suffered a while” left me feeling detached. I’ve known people who have suffered.  Suffered with illness.  Suffered with overwhelming grief.  Suffered with losses I can’t even begin to imagine.

My insignificant trials and testings and disappointments certainly don’t fit in the category of “suffering”.

Or do they?

Suffer:  “To be affected or have been affected, to feel, to have a sensible experience, to undergo.” (from The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament)

Of course it can mean to be affected with an awful illness, to experience the loss of a loved one, to be tortured for your faith.  But it also means that 1 Peter 5:10 could say, “after you have been affected by ___________, after you have experienced ___________, may God perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you.”

I’ll leave you to fill in the blanks.

I still think I’ll cringe just a little when reading verses about suffering, because I know that suffering is very real in many people’s lives and I have so much to be thankful for.  But I think I’ll look at those verses a little differently, and allow them to remind me that God cares about the things that affect me.

And He’s promised to use them to change me.  For the better.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.  2 Corinthians 4:17

But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.       2 Thessalonians 3:3

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

…if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard.  Colossians 1:23

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.                        1 Peter 1:6-7

(first published September, 2011)

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