Should disciples of Jesus be surprised with suffering?
The surprises along the way are God’s surprises. He is never caught off guard or unprepared. He calls me to follow him beyond the boundaries of my wisdom, strength and character.
The waiting I must do and the surprises that I face are meant by him to be tools of grace. They are designed to release me from my self-reliance and the hold my dreams for my life.
In those moments of surprise, it is important to remember that you may be confused, but God isn’t. In this moment when you are not sure what is going on, you haven’t been abandoned. No, the opposite is true: you are being rescued. But living this way is hard for us.
Peter challenges me to follow the example of Jesus. Peter knows. Peter learned directly from our Master Jesus.
Jesus has given me a purpose. There was no deceit, pretense or hypocrisy in Jesus at all. Jesus never missed God’s goal (aka sin). Jesus is the truth. Truth is a person and it is Jesus.
No deceit at all. Always truth.
For you have been called for this purpose, since the Messiah also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth. | 1 Peter 2:21–22
Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?Source: Mark 8:34-37 (The Message)
God has a goal in mind for me. God’s goal includes suffering. God’s goal includes victory. It isn’t either/or. It is yes/and.
Larry Pons walks us through 1 Peter 2:18-25 and helps us see God as He strengthens believers to serve under authorities. Christ was not only our example, but he is also our source for endurance and life in this age.
Where is God in suffering? Oxford Professor of Mathematics, John Lennox, speaking at The Veritas Forum at Harvard Med School, 2014.
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We can learn to think like Jesus. He didn’t expect to get His own way.
Now that is radical. Who doesn’t want to get their own way? Seriously.
But that misses God’s goal for our lives. God has a goal for us. He wants us to love Him completely. That is all.