By Allen White
But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
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. 1 Peter 2:20-23
If God had never lived in this world or walked in our shoes, then we could certainly invite Him to practice what He preaches concerning both revenge and suffering well. But, God did live in this world.
Jesus never violated a law. Jesus never sinned against anyone. Jesus never acted selfishly. Yet, Jesus got everything that He didn’t deserve.
When we think of following in Jesus’ steps, we’re more inclined to wonder about His power and His miracles, His teaching and His grace. We might even be tempted to say that we are “King’s kids,” and deserve the royal treatment. But, following in Jesus’ steps is a pathway toward suffering and trust and ultimate vindication.
Few lives have been made easier by receiving Christ. Initially, there is such joy in the removal of our guilt and shame. There is relief in avoiding the fires of Hell. But, now there is a struggle between the Spirit and the flesh (Galatians 5:17). There is a lifelong quest for God to become greater in our lives and for us to become less (John 3:30). Fortunately, this life is but a blip on the screen compared to eternity.
But, this life is real, and it’s not all gloom and doom. Our joy brings God pleasure. Whether we smile at the laughter of a child or are soothed by a gentle breeze, God is pleased.
Comparing this life to eternity is like experiencing mixed results in battles, but winning the war. Imagine if you had to Tivo the Super Bowl because you had to work. I said imagine, I know that this is not realistic. The game is recorded, but inadvertently a co-worker tells you the final score.
The bad news is that the game has now lost its suspense. The good news is that your team won.
You decide to go ahead and watch the game to see what happened. When your team fumbles the ball or faces a turnover, you hate to see it, but in the back of your mind you know that this is just a temporary setback. It’s not fatal. You know that your team won the game.
You still celebrate every touchdown and every field goal scored for your side. To see the ball moving forward toward the right end zone still bring excitement. To see the quarterback masterfully execute plays still gives a thrill.
Despite the quarterback sacks, the penalties, and the setbacks, in the end your team wins. They recovered. They walk home with the trophy. You still enjoy celebrating their victory.
Some of us have dropped the ball. Some of us have faced remarkable setbacks and penalties. But, in the end, we win. Pain and suffering will always hurt, but it’s not our permanent condition.
What have you lost perspective on these days? What recurring ache in your life just never seems to dissipate? What do you think that you might never recover from? The problems, along with this life, are merely temporary. Your last play might have gone badly. Your first half might just seem irrecoverable. But, in the end, you win. Remind yourself of that today.