1 Peter 4:12-19
Contemporary English Version (CEV)
It's so challenging to wrap our minds around the idea of being grateful for suffering. Partly this is because we're so far removed from the 1st century experience of every church member living in fear of persecution, and partly because our 21st century lives are often so insulated from the world's suffering that we forget how prevalent it is. From our places of comfort, we simply can't make the connection.
So what does it mean to suffer in today's world for American Christians? I don't know that I'm going to try and answer that here, because I'm still wrestling with it, but I know this -- these verses are teaching us about how to value the incomparable worth of our relationship with God. That relationship, made possible through the person of Jesus Christ, should have such incredible value, far greater than anything else in our lives, that we would endure anything if it meant we could hold onto that relationship. We should view the grace of God as such a treasure that we would not count the cost for a moment if we had to endure suffering to hold onto such grace. It should mean more than anything else, and it should be a daily cause of joy to know that this grace continues to permeate our lives. If suffering can remove any barrier that exists between us and that relationship, then it should be welcomed, because drawing closer to God is more valuable than breathing, more precious than gold, more wondrous than any other thing that can possibly exist.