Over the last several months, most Americans have been spending way more time on their electronic devices than ever before. Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook have gotten a lot of attention. I never cease to be amazed at how people will leverage insults online. I guess it’s a lot easier to talk trash about them when we can’t see someone’s face. Perhaps you have dealt with your share of insults in your life. It never feels good, does it?
When a coworker falsely spreads rumors about you, one of your friends from school slanders you, or your sister-in-law decides she is going to try and get your mother-in-law to hate you. Not fun! What do you want to do when people mistreat you? If you are like me, you want to fight back. You want to make sure everyone else knows the truth and understands that slanderer is lying to the world.
Some people undergo a level of suffering and insult as a result of their own decisions and behavior. You make a dumb choice at a party, you decide to steal from your company, you punch a friend in the face, you meddle in someone else’s business. These choices could result in being fired, losing your marriage, getting your butt kicked, or just ending up a miserable person. That’s suffering.
Peter is telling us that we don’t really get to choose if life will be hard. We get to choose why it’s hard. For some people “the why” of their difficulty is their own stupidity. When you’re suffering through your own bad choices, it’s easy to assign blame or avoid the problem. We’ve all done it.
My two sons are 13 and 11. Watching them develop is a real experiment in psychology. All of us can relate to the notion that at some point our brains just aren’t fully formed. One night after we had put the kids to bed, one of my sons hollered down to us that his brother was jumping out of the second-story window. What? He’s jumping out of the window? From the second story?
I hurried to his room, where he informed me that he had done the math. Once he hung from his window sill, his feet would be only about 10 feet above the ground. He’d be fine. But he had not calculated into his analysis the bricks in the patio, the AC unit, and the huge recycling can. Thankfully we were able to intervene on something that would have resulted in suffering for us all.
We are all suffering. Again, the question is, why are we suffering?
The pain from bad choices is far worse than the pain that comes from walking with God. Peter says that good pain results in a special blessing—the Spirit of God rests upon you! I can’t help but think of the moment when the Spirit of God rested upon Jesus. The voice of the Father split the heavens and said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). What has always surprised me about this passage is how the Father speaks these words before Jesus begins His public ministry. The Father’s affirmation provides the foundation of Jesus’ life and ministry.
Your heavenly Father is for you today. He’s 100% on your side. He wants to speak over your life and give you the strength you need to suffer for His sake. He wants to rest upon you so that you can endure and have hope in the middle of this messy life.
If you mess it up, he will help you pick up the pieces, but wouldn’t you rather avoid some of the unnecessary pain that awaits people who live foolish lives? Wouldn’t it be better to go through hardship knowing it’s for a reason? Wouldn’t it be better to look back and know that you were doing everything you could to honor God? This kind of life doesn’t bring shame with it. You don’t have to look back with regrets.
Today, will you ask Him to help you live a life without major regrets? Will you ask Him to reveal to you areas of your life where you are suffering because of your choices? Ask Him to encourage you in the places you need to be encouraged. In the midst of this, let’s thank Him that we can come just as we are—and kneel at the feet of Jesus and find His mercy and grace to help us in our time of need. Today and every day.