Over the past couple of weeks, I have been writing about fighting anxiety on “Suffering Saturday.” This is the final installment in the series based on 1 Peter 5:5-14. I would encourage you to read the previous two first (Part 1, Part 2) before reading Part 3. So far we have seen that Peter wrote that we are to first abase ourselves, and then to go on the attack against the enemy. When that is done we cannot forget to praise God, or as I say here, acclaim our God.
It is difficult to see how going through a paralyzing bout of anxiety is praiseworthy, but let me assure you, it is. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians that we are to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, ESV). I’ve heard people say, “Yes, we are to give thank in all circumstances, but not for all circumstances,” hoping that the difference in words will alleviate them from having to thank God for something that caused suffering. And while it is true that Paul told the Thessalonians that they were to give thanks in all circumstances, he wrote to the Ephesians that we are to be “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Ephesians 5:20, ESV; italics mine). So then we are to give thanks because in the end, God must always get the glory. It is God who strengthens us and who gives us grace. So it is He whom we shall realize deserves that acclamation of our praise. “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen,” (1 Peter 5.10-11, ESV). The suffering is necessary. The pain and uncertainty is necessary. It shows our weakness and our frailty. It opens our eyes to our finitude. It refines us. It breaks us. It puts doubt into self. It takes away all our trust in our personal abilities. And where it breaks us, God restores us. Where it puts doubt in us, God confirms us. Where it weakens us, God strengthens us. Where it takes away our trust in self, God establishes us on a firm footing of Himself. And in the end, after all the frustration and tears and pain we will see God’s way was indeed the most glorious way imaginable.
Paul ended his letter with some greetings, which was typical of letters in this era.
By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son.
Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ, (1 Peter 5.12-14, ESV).
Just a quick thought as we close. Peter wrote that “this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.” This pointing to all that Peter has said about suffering and subjection and trust and being mindful of our salvation and the inheritance that awaits us. This is God’s grace. His putting us through the ringer is His grace though we don’t understand it. May we stand in that grace and never flinch from it. May we embrace our cross as closely as Jesus did His own.