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     From My Utmost for His Highest

. . . but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings . . . —1 Peter 4:13

In a Friday morning Men's group at PRUMC, Ken Boa led us for about a thousand years on this fourth chapter of 1 Peter. It's been immensely interesting, but this whole section of 1 Peter 4:12-19 is really special.

Peter says don't be surprised at the "fiery ordeal" that's coming. Be excited that you can suffer with Christ. Now don't go chasing evil or creating your own suffering, but lean on God---as you are reduced, lift up this name. He says that these trials will start with us, but don't fret, they'll be much worse for non-believers and hopefully that additional pressure will bring others to Christ.

He was talking about the coming Roman persecution, but doesn't God still send "fiery ordeals" upon us today? I know that we all would say yes, He does. To deny that would be to either not be aware of your fellow man or to diminish the sovereign power of God.

OC seems to focus today on the ordeals that don't meet us directly. The ones that come at us from the side that we can avoid, if we choose. Maybe the suffering of a friend, or Jesus' definition of a neighbor.

I would love to hear your accounts of how you've been able to keep the proper perspective through significant struggles. I don't purport to know God's plan, but this trial that He put a friend of mine through has touched so many people. I hate the cost, but in my little view, I have seen it:

  1. Open up my intercessory prayers to a whole new level,
  2. Create anxiety/tension/longing among some in Buckhead over missing a prayer vigil (not a sale or a party or a ball, but people WANT to come, were disappointed they didn't know about a chance to pray--hallowed be His name)
  3. Personally lead at least one person that I heard had been distant from God relationally, and is now close--I know there's more,
  4. Find members of our church and Sunday School class that were lost, and we didn't even know it,
  5. Briefly see how God uses one person's suffering to draw others near,
  6. Reveal some incredibly deep confessions of faith through some truly beautiful emails.
  7. Prayer groups participating from all over the country and a website with around 10k hits.

I'm on the outside of all this, but I've seen His hand in the middle of this terrible trial.

I'll close by saying that I've found comfort in focus on the eternal perspective. That if you truly believe that God has set us aside as His own, and as our Creator He knows how we are put together/what is best for us and that He controls all things, then focusing on Him/abiding in Him, is the only way to endure and be strengthened by trials. This isn't a God on high Who comes down from heaven to wreak havoc in our lives from time to time. He's the all powerful Creator of heaven and earth that not only has the right to build and destroy, but suffered with us, suffered greater than us, by sending His Son, not himself but an even greater sacrifice, to be beaten and torn and hung on a cross by those that hated Him, for us, for His glory. As I am reduced, let Him be glorified.

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