Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
I Peter 4:12-13
Peter writes to his dear friends, fellow believers who are scattered and persecuted because of their belief in Jesus Christ. I Peter is thought to have been written during the reign of Emperor Nero, no later than 67 or 68 A.D. Emperor Nero was an egocentric emperor who sought to make a name for himself. Most historians agree that he was responsible for the fire in July of 64 A.D. that destroyed most of the city of Rome. It is thought that he destroyed the buildings in order to make room to build monuments and palaces to establish his name in history. When the populace discovered this, they were incensed and ready to revolt. As a result, Nero blamed the Christians for burning the city, which began the persecutions. It was during that time that the Christians were dipped in tar and burned as torches to light the gardens of Nero. They also were thrown to lions and were tied up in leather bags and thrown into water so that when the bags shrank, they were squeezed to death. It seems unbelievable that these things could have happened to the people of God. In the world today, that type of persecution seems foreign to us. However, we must not be blind to the fact that in many countries, Christians are still being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ.
You may not be experiencing the severe persecution for your faith that others around the world are experiencing. You may, however, be suffering for the gospel in other ways. I Peter is a reminder that no matter what trial you are going through, whether it has been caused by your faith or whether there is another source for your suffering, it is a time to rejoice. In rejoicing, the glory of God will be revealed.
The trial that I am going through seems more than I can bear. Give me the strength to rejoice that I am participating in Your sufferings. Though it is unnatural to give praise in the midst of suffering, it is my desire to bring You glory.
In Jesus’ name, Amen