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Suffering and Blessing

Peter tells us that we are called to suffer for doing good. He is unequivocal about it, and argues plainly that we should follow in the footsteps of Jesus in regards to the intensity of suffering we can expect in our endeavors (1 Peter 2:20-24). We are called, he says. The word is powerful because it implies that just as we can expect suffering, God has an expectation that we will answer his calling. Afterall, his word does not return to him void (Isaiah 55:11). So, we can answer that call willingly, or we can experience the greater and additional natural agonies that arise as we kick against the pricks (Acts 26:12-16).

But the purpose of the goads and the pricks and the pain is to produce in us a blessing. In fact, we are called to bless others so that we may obtain a blessing (1 Peter 3:8-12). He even lays out some specific ways we must suffer, and what kinds of blessings we will receive. For instance, he tells us we must suffer by having a unity of mind. This means that we must try to conform our minds to Christ, along with our Christian brothers and sisters. This, in turn, means that we can’t have it our own way. We must not return insults for insults. Which means that we must suffer the insults of others, and bless them with our spirit and character. He tells us that we must suffer humility. Meaning that we should critique how highly we think of ourselves, and not lift ourselves above others in our own self-image constructions.

Peter argues that when we think of others in these kinds of ways, we will have a good and enjoyable life. He goes on to argue that we should develop a natural bent for turning away from evil, for doing good, for seeking peace, and for pursuing it. The basic idea is that our natural push should be toward righteousness. But in this, he also gives us a kind of warning. He says that the Lord’s eyes are on the righteous, and that his ears are open to their prayers. However, his face is against those who do evil. This is because a person who is righteous is a person who is open to God’s goads, pricks, discipline, and plans. That person trusts God, and so God watches over that person, listens to that person, and changes that person into something better. The evil person rejects God, rejects his truth, resists his ways, and pursues destruction.

A little willful suffering often leads to growth and long-term gains. Wrongly initiated self-indulgence may lead to temporary pleasures, but long term pains.

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