Suffering as a Means of Joy Unto Overjoy

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal

that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Pet. 4:12–13

Lord Jesus, this portion of your Word comes like a heavenly hug this March Sunday. This “fiery ordeal” of a pandemic isn’t supposed to produce fear and guilt in us, but faith and grace. Suffering, between your resurrection and return, shouldn’t surprise us, but focus and free us. Help us, Lord.

Indeed, “fiery ordeals” aren’t for our punishment, but for our purification, and experiencing your presence more profoundly. It’s not that we want to suffer more, Jesus, but we do want to suffer well.

Your death on the cross was a once-and-for-all suffering—perfectly securing our complete salvation, and consummate healing. Now sitting at the right hand of the Father, you’re not a distant, disconnected, dispassionate Savior. You are making all things beautiful and new.

You are present wherever there is injustice and disease, brokenness and suffering. Embolden us to join you there, fellowship with you there, and serve with you there (Phil. 3:10). May our suffering intensify our compassion, focus our prayers, and be a source of encouragement to fellow sufferers. Give us joy in our weeping, peace in our hurting, and hope in our waiting.

The Day of no more suffering IS coming (Rev. 21:1–5)—the Day when your glory will be fully revealed, and our healing will be forever enjoyed. What a Day of rejoicing that will be. Until then, give us all the grace and power we will need to live and love to your glory—in this pandemic and in every other “fiery ordeal.” So very Amen we pray, in your wonderful and merciful name.