Expect to Suffer (v. 12)
If we enlist under the banner of the Son of God, we must be ready to suffer. Bearing his cross is at the heart of true discipleship (Matt. 16:24), and the world will hate us because it hates him (John 15:19). The world hates him because he is the heavenly light that exposes its evil deeds (John 3:20; 7:7). Thus, we should not be surprised by persecution. The surprise is all on the other side: that the church is not more persecuted, especially in ages and nations that hate the gospel and war against the enthroned King and Savior. As for us, the more we love him and speak his truth, the more we may expect to feel some of this “fiery trial” (2 Tim. 3:12). It is only his irresistible power, as well as his kindly regard for us, that hold back the wrath of man from doing its worse, from doing what it certainly would if his hand were lifted for an instant. Nevertheless, as Peter has already told us that the end is near, that we are to be sober and watch unto prayer (4:7), it is folly to expect any other life as Christians but that of a soldier and a pilgrim. This life certainly bears little resemblance to the giddy, carnival atmosphere in many professing Christian circles and no more to the dead formalism in others. The church of our Savior is among other things a war camp, in which our great Captain dwells by his Spirit, proclaims his truth, and unsheathes the sword coming out of his mouth against the wicked. Here he also sifts his often weary band, conforming them to his image. Even though we have been warned of these things, we think persecution strange, even horrible: not here in this land; surely we are more enlightened than this. This will not happen to me.
Persecution is strange to us today for many reasons. We are living on the capital of the sufferings and labors of past generations, and this is always easier than the experience of those who bear the heat of the day and the fires of persecution. The conviction that we are reaping many of the blessings that others before us have sown through much hardship should rebuke our laziness. They died for God’s truth; we have watered it down. They practiced self-denial; we prefer to be pampered and make our peace with the world. Spiritual softness, as well as physical and mental, makes us prefer a convenient faith to a fire-tested one. It does not help matters that fuzzy views of our Savior and his kingdom prevail among many; prosperity gospel, cheap grace, and a prepackaged faith with simple instructions are the strained milk upon which too many try to fight sin, Satan, and the flesh. Do we not also have collective amnesia regarding the nature of Christian discipleship? Indeed, since we often love the world, we think it will love us, or at least leave us alone. Thus, we settle into a practical pluralism, indifference, and “my personal walk with God that no one can question.” Then, as the nation has prospered, unbelief has set in among us. We feel no need to “endure by seeing him who is invisible” when so many visible delights present themselves for our pleasure. In this environment, many have come into the church who in former ages, when discipleship was costly, would not have dreamed of aligning themselves with the cross or speaking in our Lord’s name. As a result, secular, worldly men have secularized the church. They speak and live an easy gospel of easy peace with the world. May the Lord deliver us from these slumbers and lies!
Holy men and women of old all passed through these fiery trials. Otherwise, faith is not faith. It may be a set of principles or a path to personal peace and sense that all is right with God, but it is not faith. Testing is at the heart of true faith. “The Lord trieth the righteous” (Ps. 7:9; 11:5). We might be tempted to think that this pertains primarily to the old covenant era, that age of waiting and expectation. Now that the grace of God has appeared in Jesus Christ, however, should we not expect an easier road? These first-century believers certainly knew nothing of a convenient, low-cost faith. The very spirit of Peter’s letter to them breathes of approaching trouble, the need to walk more closely with Jesus Christ, and the reality of suffering for his name. The same is true with us, though we are not to compare ourselves with other ages, for God’s work in his church varies according to his unsearchable wisdom and purposes. Yet, he will have all his children tried and sifted: like gold in the furnace. He will have us be conformed to the image of his Son, to suffer a little while (1 Pet. 5:10), and to learn, as our Lord did, obedience through suffering (Heb. 5:8). Now, he passed through the deepest hell and sorrows; he will not ask this of us. Our sufferings for Christ, even at their worst, are always “light and momentary” (2 Cor. 4:17). Nevertheless, it is only as we suffer with and for him that we have any legitimate expectation of being glorified with him (Rom. 8:17). His life will be in us: all of it. What is true of the Head will be true of his members: not always the same in degree or kind, but always sufficient to wean us from the love of this world, make us long for the heavenly life, and lead us to call upon God and set our affections upon him and the things above.
There is nothing like the fire of suffering for Christ – snide remarks in the workplace, gospel conflict in families, aspersions and reproaches from neighbors, more overt persecution – to test the quality of our faith, but even more to reveal the power of our Lord Jesus in times of weakness and trial (2 Cor. 12:9-10). Are we really committed to his word and kingdom? Will we choose his word over our will, our Lord over ourselves and even, if necessary, our families, and heaven over the world? Are Abraham, Moses, Job, David, and Daniel, as well as Hannah, Abigail, and the Mary’s truly our fathers and mothers in the faith? We have lost this sense of identity with them. The martyrs seems more like superheroes to us rather than simple men and women who walked by faith rather than by sight. Fiery trials of faith put before us this single truth: that God’s word is more reliable than anything we see with our eyes. His word is true when everything we experience entices us to go our own way. When far away seem heaven, the return of Jesus Christ, or the reward of the righteous, when the wicked roar, scheme, and seem to be having it all their own way, then faith says: “God has spoken; all my life is in him; though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” Fiery trials also purge away the chaff from the church: all those secular men in the church who vie for power and think that the pretense of godliness is a way to financial gain, prestige, and dominance. The Lord will have his true ones revealed, his excellent ones in the earth, in whom is all his delight. He will have his word proved to be pure: “as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (Ps. 12:6). He will have all our delight to be in him. Persecution of various forms exposes our idols, forces us to the earth in prayer, as its approaching horrors did our Savior, and brings forth deeper allegiance to God and his word. Men may despise such steadfastness and scoff at it. Heaven rejoices; the whole angelic host shouts victoriously; hell trembles. It hates the power of a life built upon the foundation of God’s eternal word and in communion with his Christ.
Rejoice and Be Happy (vv. 13-14)
Suffering is very personal, and we feel it deeply, however it occurs. Yet, just as we are not to be surprised by it, neither should we allow it to depress us. We are to rejoice. Peter undoubtedly recalls our Savior’s opening sermon: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Matt. 5:11). He also remembered his night of fiery trial, when he denied his Lord three times. That we may not deny, but confess, we must so grow in love for Christ, in maturity as disciples, and in understanding of our union with him that when we taste a little of his sufferings, our minds and hearts rise higher than the pain, fear, and embarrassment. We are to consider what a blessed privilege it is to share in Christ’s sufferings. This is not said with reference to redemption, as if our sufferings are atoning. Such a thought denies the all-sufficiency of his cleansing blood and the total satisfaction for our sins he made at the cross. Rather, so close is the union we enjoy with him that all the hardships we experience for his honor and gospel are nothing but his own life being lived out in us. Did he not ask Saul on the Damascus road: “Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me?” He could ask this because he has joined himself to us by his Spirit, dwells in us, and receives all our blows as if they were given to him. Is this not the greatest of all possible comforts: that we share in our Savior’s life, are associated so personally and deeply with him, and even blessed to have a small taste of his sufferings? And why is this? So that we might taste of his power, the sweetness of his love, and see, like Stephen, heaven opened to us and our Savior’s glory and power revealed in our weakness.
To have this joy in the midst of the fiery furnace, however, we must be walking with him. His fellowship and presence, his word and covenant, must be all our delight. We shall have no taste for suffering unless our Lord is fairer and more precious to us than all the world, worthy of ten eternities of suffering for his name, if only we might know and please him, have his life and presence with us more closely, and be with him forever (Acts 5:41). If he is with us, how can we be depressed? Through the ages, God’s people have felt his presence and power, his delightfulness and loveliness, especially when they have suffered for him, as their letters and final testimonies abundantly reveal. This sounds so strange to the modern ear. There is a remedy, program, and drug for everything. Life should be as painless as possible. Yet, we are more jaundiced, miserable, and narcissistic than almost any generation the West has ever seen. Here is the golden rule of joy in suffering. Suffering, as it tries our faith with fire, brings forth clearer views of Christ and his glory, deeper joy in him, and a fuller share in his life. This is the reason believers have preferred pain to denial, imprisonment to compromise, and death to life. They wanted Jesus Christ. O, let us love and adore him, be learning of him before these fires are kindled, that when they are, we may be neither surprised nor sad, but joyful. Christ is about to be revealed in us.
The second half of verse thirteen is critical. Believers have heard no heavenly symphonies during their sufferings. Their love for Christ did not make them insensible to pain or oblivious to their injuries and reproaches. Peter is not inoculating us against feeling or saying we can think our way out of pain. Our Savior felt the agony of the garden, the terrors of the cross, and the cup of divine judgment – but he hoped. So must we. There is usually no immediate deliverance in suffering. For every Angel in the fiery furnace and lion’s den, there have been many deaths, agonies of body and soul, and brutal mistreatment from Christ’s tormentors. We must be clear on this point. Our Lord truly felt these horrors; so shall we. This is the reason Peter takes us one more step. In times of suffering for Christ, faith looks to the future, when his glory shall be revealed. He places our happiness upon this unassailable foundation. The Lord Jesus will return from heaven in glory, taking vengeance upon his enemies. Every eye will behold him. It is to his coming that we must look. We draw joy from his reign, his return, and his consummation of all things. As the saints in the old covenant “saw his day and were glad” (John 8:56), so we look for his final coming, his glorious day. When we see him return in glory, whether we are on earth or in heaven, all our sufferings will seem as nothing in comparison to his glory in that hour. By faith, we must look to it now.
This means practically that our Lord’s glorious return, which was announced with unquestionable authority by the angelic messengers at his ascension, must ever occupy a chief place in our thoughts. It is the strength behind diligence in earthly labors (1 Cor. 15:58), behind all faithful, humble service to him (Matt. 25:34-40), and, as we see here, joyful endurance of suffering. How can something that seems so distant, so weak is our faith, be a source of joy to us in suffering? We long for Christ – not simply to be with him but to see his glory fully revealed. We remember his sufferings in our own. We remember the Father’s promise to him: to make him exalted, extolled, and very high (Isa. 52:12). He has now entered his glory, but the full manifestation of his glory – his splendor and majesty, love and grace as the only Mediator between God and man – awaits his coming. When he comes, our own glory with him shall be revealed (Rom. 8:18-24). Joined to him, we desire for all men everywhere to behold his glory, to bow before him and confess that he is Lord. We must meditate upon it, pray for it, seek it through faithfulness, and allow it to thrill our souls so that we feel our sufferings are preparing for the revelation of his glory. On that day, he who was crucified in weakness and lives through the power of God shall be held in awe by all them that believe, in terror by those who do not believe and obey the gospel. This is our joy: the return of the Lamb, our wedding day, and his glory revealed. Here faith must turn for its support in dark times, suffering times. Here hope dawns, sustains, and saves.
We shall have need of such hope, for reproach is very difficult to bear, perhaps even more than bodily injury, loss of goods, and death. There is in every human heart the desire to be liked and accepted, even esteemed. Yet, faith teaches us to endure “trial of cruel mocking,” to bear the shame of the cross (Heb. 11:36). How much we have yet to learn about being Christians, that when all men hate us – not for our faults, arrogance, and vengeful spirit, but for our meek, unswerving stand for Christ – we are tasting of his precious stripes. We are never more honored by him on earth than when he allows us to suffer and empowers us to endure the mockery of men for his name. This is a kind of persecution that, at least at present, is more likely to come to us. It is also the kind from which we most flee, often backing down from our words and stand for Christ because men receive it with anger or ridicule. But we are truly happy when such reproaches for our Lord come our way. For however maliciously men speak of us because we call them to repent, refuse their idolatry, or must separate from the evil of our times, the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon us. Here we must truly walk by faith. Our standards of judgment are so worldly and skewed. It requires an act of God for us to think that reproaches for Christ are really evidence that we are filled with the glory of God and the Spirit of Christ. To bear them patiently, happily, is wondrous evidence that we love Christ and have his own life in us. It is heaven’s rays shining in our lives, telling the world that we already partake of heaven’s greatest treasure: Christ in us, the hope of glory (Phil. 1:27). But such happiness will never be ours unless we establish our complete happiness in God and desire the glory of his Son above life itself. This is certainly a different happiness. It is the Christian’s happiness. The world can know nothing of it, for it knows nothing of the joys of Jesus Christ.
Suffer Unashamedly as a Christian (vv. 15-16)
This joy is ours if we suffer as a Christian. This is another way of saying “for being a Christian.” To suffer for crimes – murder, theft, evil deeds, “meddling in other people’s affairs” [this word is very rare: avllotrioepi,skopoj] – is an insult to the majesty of God. Have we not seen and heard enough of the great evil done to the cause of Christ when professing Christians commit such vile deeds? They ought never to be named among us, much less performed (Eph. 5:3)! It is not to be wondered that our present society blasphemes God and is so cold to the Christian message, for some of its worst detractors are those who profess to be Jesus’ friends, yet whose lives are as filthy and corrupt as the worst worldlings. At a more common level, too much of what we think suffering is due to our personal failures of character. Some speak of Christ with an angry spirit; others lack compassion and bludgeon with the truth; still others speak and live with such arrogance and unfeeling dogmatism that men are turned off from us and from the Savior we claim to know. When men speak evil of us for these things, we are not suffering as Christians but as sinners. We receive what we deserve. Note the testimony of the men and women in the Gospels whom Jesus healed and saved. They spoke honestly of their sins and miseries; their message was not “look at me and listen to me” but “hear of the Savior who has shown such compassion to a poor sinner” (Mark 5:19, 33; John 4:29). It is not enough for us to confess Jesus and tell men the truth; we must do so as those who have received mercy and cleansing: humbly, honestly, even tearfully. Not only what we say but the spirit with which we say it must ornament the gospel of our Savior. This is the Spirit of Christ; we have his presence and power only in communion with the resurrected Son of God.
If we suffer because we have meekly shared the Lord’s grace to us with others, are unashamed of our Lord’s cross, or stand boldly yet humbly for his truth – and all the while doing good and praying for those who abuse us – then we have no reason to be ashamed. Our Savior was not ashamed of his sufferings; he despised them, looked down upon them, thought of them as nothing in comparison to the joy of doing his Father’s will and saving his sheep (Heb. 12:2). Was he humiliated, cruelly injured, and painfully afflicted due to his dedication to God’s righteousness and truth? Yes, he felt all the mockery, pain, and hellish terrors he endured, throughout his life and on the cross. But he was never ashamed for one minute of the gospel he proclaimed. He was not ashamed of us: though we were so vile and depraved, he gladly went to the cross to redeem us. We are ashamed by legitimate suffering as Christians only because we are more filled with the desire for man’s praise and acceptance than we are with amazed love before the One who loved and gave himself for us.
Rather than feeling shame, we should glorify God. What an honor it is when he calls us to suffer for righteousness’ sake, for the name and truth of the Son he loves, for our lively hope! Our hearts should pound with thanksgiving for being privileged to taste a little of our Savior’s sufferings and to carry high his cross before the eyes of men. This is the very thing that brings men and nations to the point either of repentance or persecution, salvation or judgment: when the cross of our Savior is our only boast (Gal. 6:14), when we proclaim Jesus as crucified Savior, resurrected Lord, and enthroned Judge (Acts 2:30-33). Yet, it should not surprise us if our embarrassment at the cross in times of relative peace should weaken us and also make suffering so distasteful to consider. If we are too proud and self-serving to boast in our Savior in easier times, how can we expect to uphold his cross and gospel before the ridicule and malice of the world in suffering ones? The difficulty of suffering is not the suffering; it is ourselves. We desire the blessings of being Christians without the responsibilities, the costs, and the world’s reproach. God will remedy this; only he can. He will make our Savior’s cross our only life and boast.
Judgment Begins at God’s House (vv. 17-18)
From what Peter has already said, God bestows few higher honors upon us than when he calls us to suffer for his Son and truth. Yet in such times, he gives ascendancy to the wicked and scourges his people. Now, on the one hand, he is angry with them, not with us, for the very reason we suffer is due to his great regard for us and desire to conform us to the image of his Son (Rom. 8:29). At the same time, much sin still remains in us, and we need our Father’s chastening. Indeed, he treats his children more firmly than he does the children of disobedience. He loves us, and therefore he brings us under the discipline of the cross to purify our faith and remove our sinful dross. After he gives the wicked their hour, as when he used the Assyrians to chasten his people (Isa. 10), he turns his fury upon them. How we must adore and trust the God who sovereignly judges the very evil men and systems he raises up and uses to chasten his people! This is a challenging dynamic, yet it is the plain teaching of Scripture.
And so judgment begins at the house of God. What a strange thought for Peter to introduce here! It is, however, perfectly placed. If we would be the sons and daughters of our Father, we must submit ourselves to his stripes. Yes, they are often inflicted by godless men. It is a trial to our faith (Ps. 73) when God chastens us through such wicked instruments. Why introduce our need for chastening now? Consider: the church grows suffering-averse when she becomes cross-cold. The one thing that rekindles earnest seeking of the Lord, heartfelt repentance, and sincere love for Jesus Christ is when the Lord smashes our idols. He puts our faith to the test, even on the line. Whom do we love: him or the world? Self or Christ? Convenience or faithfulness? Were our hearts warmer toward our Savior, we would willingly suffer for him. But we grow sleepy, as well as fat and sassy, under his blessings. We forget the first lesson of discipleship: take up the cross. “Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3). “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (1 John 3:13). But we do marvel; we are surprised by suffering. We grow embarrassed by the cross, too engrossed in the world and our own affairs. We must be awakened. We need stripes, sifting, suffering.
Peter wrote these words early in the Christian era. We ought to draw some encouragement from the fact that those first believers, as much as we esteem them, were, like Elijah, “men of like passions with us” (James 5:17). Each generation of believers faces similar temptations and requires the same reminders. Believing in Jesus does not open the door to an easy, problem free life. Sometimes the world is less consistent with its governing principles and therefore less hate-filled toward those who profess godliness. But its wrath always lies just beneath the surface, ready to burst the bounds of politeness and withdraw its false promises of toleration. And the church is always on a pilgrim quest and a soldier’s battlefield. We often forget this. Prosperity and peace make us soft. Softness always thinks there is a way to reach the world without confronting it. Yet, if our Savior could not bring in everlasting righteousness and overcome the world by being nice, seeking common ground with unbelief, and working within the system, shall we fare differently? Are we wiser than he? Stronger? His sufferings and sacrifice were the only way; they are the only way for us.
This is what Peter means by judgment beginning at God’s house. Until our hearts are purified by suffering – hardship truly for Christ’s sake, whether great or small – so that we love our Savior more and set our affections on things above, we shall always settle into a false peace with the world. We must be chastened, weaned from our worldliness, and filled with the life and love of our Savior. Now, we can listen to this and repent now, or we can continue to slumber. If we wisely choose the former, the Lord will still sift our faith, but he would rather us learn this willingly than forced to do so under a full-blown forest fire of opposition to the gospel (Isa. 48:18-19). If we continue self-absorbed and self-loving, if we will not come to our Savior and draw from his grace to love and serve him more faithfully, expect the fire. Judgment will begin in the church, whatever happens to the nations for their opposition to God’s people. The Father has made promises to his Son. The church will be holy, preserved, and unified in the truth (John 17). The farthest coastlands will wait for his law. All the nations will flow into his church – not through the door of “make Christianity as hip and relevant as possible,” watered down theology and morality, or apostate ecumenism. It will come through the only gate: Jesus Christ. It will come through the only standard: the word of God. It will come through the cross: repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ.
We shall never be firmly persuaded of this or give this witness, however, until we are sifted: thoroughly. Our false loves and pleasant dreams of a road easier than our Savior’s must give way to the hard facts: God is at war with the world, Christ with Satan, light with darkness. To be a Christian is to be a combatant, whether out in the front like Moses and Elijah or in quieter corners as the faithful man who serves the Lord in his calling and family each day. Either way, to confess Christ is to hold up the cross in the devil’s face and to poke the world in the eye. God will not have us in heaven save through crossing the sea of suffering. He will show us his power in our weakness. He will be all our sufficiency and joy, our peace and contentment. He will also teach us that even if our lives are very hard and reproaches fall upon us as fast and hard as hail in a thunderstorm, if we have him, it is enough for us. He will do what is best and wisest to purify his church and prepare her for the coming of the Bridegroom.
Peter considers the other side: those who afflict the righteous. He does so in a way that should deepen our sense of preparedness for suffering and give us strong assurance that evil will not finally prevail. God’s afflictions and judgments can be of such severity that it appears the church will be swallowed up by them, scarcely or with difficulty saved. One thinks of the Jewish believers in the days of vengeance leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem (Matt. 24:22) and the persecuting fury of Rome against the early Gentile believers. The horrible sufferings of believers during the Reformation era and later killing times in Scotland also come to mind. To an objective onlooker, the church was soon to breathe her last, the gospel to be silenced by venomous threats, cruel butcheries, and fire. The true church, pure gospel, and holy Scriptures were so savagely attacked that nothing but the power of God delivered them. There was no doubt he would bring them through, for he has promised (Matt. 16:18), but this did not lessen the heart-wrenching difficulties of the times. By this we learn not to minimize God’s sifting hand against us or to think that we have outgrown the need of it. That suffering for Christ is so far from our collective minds, that his cross and gospel are upheld so weakly in our hands, are perhaps the surest indications that we are ripe or ripening for similar judgments. We need them. We should be prepared for them. God has often brought his people so low that they despaired of life and the continuance of his church. Only his faithfulness and power sustained her.
But what happens to the ungodly and sinner? The Jewish nation lost her place and kingdom. Ancient Rome is an archaeological dig. The Roman Catholic Church is but a shadow of her former persecuting, apostate self. For after our sovereign Lord finishes his work upon Mount Zion, his eye will turn to look at all those who have broken down her hedges, spoiled her vineyards, laughed at her, and torn her to bits. They have only one destiny: woe. Their end is destruction. God will get his glory by sifting his church; he will also get his glory by executing justice upon those who dare to lift a hand against his Bride. What an awful, humbling, inspiring thing it is to be the children of God in this world, to partake of our Savior’s sufferings, and to have his life in us. Ours is not always a faith of pleasant evening devotions, though the Lord very often gives us seasons of refreshment from his hand. Ours is faith that will be tried in the furnace of affliction. Our Savior’s life will be manifested in us so that we may also share in his glory. We are caught up in his great battle. Our Lord of Hosts is the General, the Captain, the Governor of the nations. He will parade the glory of his grace and the wonders of his love and power in the church before the watching eyes of men and angels (Eph. 3:1-6). He will never forget what his Son has done, how he humbled himself unto the death of the cross; how he, the MOST HOLY ONE, was numbered among the transgressors. He has given all authority and power into the hand of his Son to make sure his church is humbled, sanctified, preserved, and finally saved, and his enemies ground to powder. Jesus Christ will stand alone on the top of the highest mountain: exalted, extolled, and very high. Every knee will bow to him. God will be all in all.
Commit Your Soul to God (v. 19)
Therefore, our only security, as Peter concludes, is to do as our Savior did: to commit the keeping of our souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. He is “able to keep what we commit to him against that day” (2 Tim. 1:12). He is ever faithful, always vigilant to guard over us and make sure not one word of all his promises falls to the ground (1 Kings 8:56). We must make this commitment now. When the heat is turned up, there is often such initial confusion and despair that unless walking with our Father in faith has been the tenor of our lives, we will be overwhelmed and nearly crushed in the first onslaught of Satan. Know God’s word; hold it fast in your heart; never forget that the only shield that is able to quench the fiery missiles of the devil is faith in the promises of God. But this is not a mental exercise. Faith works, believes, and obeys. This is the reason he adds “in well doing.” Hearing these warnings of suffering must not make us fearful or vainly attempt to preserve ourselves from having to suffer. Christians are not escapists; we are believers. God will sift us. Our best preparation is to be leading obedient lives before him: doing good to all, loving and showing hospitality to one another, speaking his gospel with good will and pure hearts to a lost and hate-filled world. Hear David: “It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law. Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way” (Ps. 119:126-128). The more evil the times in which we live, the more committed we must be to God’s law, to live by every word that has come from his mouth.
In the midst of these difficult truths, there is one promise that is of such importance, of such comfort and sustaining power, that Peter makes it his last word on suffering: “God is a faithful Creator.” He who made us will never leave us or forsake us. The ultimate proof of this is that he did not abandon us to our sins and to his judgment but laid our curse upon the back of his Son. This promise is thus sealed with the blood of the Son of God. Whatever hardships we endure in this world for Christ, however hard our way may be, nothing is happening that is outside of God’s sovereign purposes or that will overthrow his plans of good and blessing for his church: nothing. He is faithful. He always keeps his promises. This is all our security and peace in the midst of the battle. Let us commit ourselves to the mercy of God and bow before his wondrous love in Jesus Christ, so that desiring to be found in him above all, we grow in love for him and zeal for his truth. Then, when suffering comes, in small ways or on a larger scale, we shall be ready. Christ in us shall be ready. He will do mighty works in our sufferings as he did through his. He is now the resurrected Lamb in the midst of the throne. Behold his glory! Adore him! Commit your life and your future to him.