How To Suffer Well

This past weekend we continued our walk through 1 Peter and we dealt with a difficult subject – What To Do When Your Boss Is A Jerk!  I had originally planned for this message to allow me to walk through verses 18-25 but we did not have time for that.  Therefore, I want to take a few moments to reflect on some of the ramifications of this past message.  If you missed it, you can check it out here:

But what do we do when we are suffering in the workplace?  What do we do when we are suffering in the home or the community?  Peter deals with that in the verses that follow his instructions about slaves and masters.

But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

22 “He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:20-25)

So how do we suffer well?  There are 5 reminders that show up in the text that I want to outline.

1. Acknowledge that this is our calling!  Peter says that if you suffer for doing good and you endure it – it is commendable before God and then he reminds us of something I really don’t like – this is our calling!  I don’t like suffering.  I am much more naturally inclined to complained and frustration when I go through difficulty, so Peter’s statement is a little discouraging.  However, we must remember that this is not our home and our home is characterized by the absence of suffering!

Now, Peter says that we are called to this because Christ suffered for us, leaving an example so that we can follow in His steps.

We don’t pick and choose where, when or how we follow Jesus.

It is a difficult calling, and yet it’s no different from what our master endured for us.  This is our calling.

2. Remember that Jesus’ suffering was completely undeserved…and that didn’t stop His suffering.  

He committed no sin and there was no deceit in his mouth and yet, he was mistreated.  Often we can think that as long as we don’t do anything wrong or treat anyone poorly, we won’t be mistreated or we SHOULDN’T be mistreated.  That just isn’t true in our world.  Jesus’ suffering was completely undeserved.  I wish I could say that about myself, but I can’t.

You may treat everyone with fairness at work.  You may be innocent towards your spouse.  You may have been incredibly gracious towards your spouse, but none of those things can insulate you from suffering.

3. Your options are to trust your instincts or to trust God.

When someone attacks me, my initial response is to defend myself.  I may want to explain how they got it wrong.  I might try to call people and gain supporters.  Or, I may simply consider putting something online that defends my innocence.  And yet, when Jesus was unjustly attacked He did not respond, but instead entrusted Himself to God the Father.

That is really the issue so often – to trust God or my own instincts.  But my one question for you is this: which is more reliable, God or your instincts?

4.  Others are being impacted by your responses.

Christ’s willingness to suffer well resulted in the incredible forgiveness and restored relationship with God that we now have.  I think in a similar, albeit lesser way, the way that you respond is impacting other people.

Do you have children?  They are learning about your faith with your suffering.

Do you have people you are sharing Christ with?  They are finding out just how powerful your God is when you respond to difficulty.

Do you have co-workers?  They are learning about Jesus when you get mistreated or passed over for a promotion on the job.

5.  Commit your soul,mind and body to your Shepherd and Overseer.

Peter ends his example from Christ by announcing that we are now able to return to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls (God) through the perfected work of Jesus Christ.  I believe this is an important point and here’s why:

When you are suffering, you have an opportunity to commit yourself to the watch care and oversight of well…yourself, or to the watch care and oversight of our God. 

Suffering well requires that we commit ourselves to the watch care and oversight of our God.  He will never leave you nor forsake you.

So, the next time you are overlooked on the job, mistreated in your neighborhood, lied about on social media or even fired because of your faith…remember – this is our calling and we can trust God.

How To Suffer Well