Being aware of the dual realities that (1) in this world Christians are going to face a measure of tribulation and troubled times, and (2) the end of this world as we know it is nearer than ever, how should Christians live?
In 1 Peter 4, the inspired apostle first challenges us to be alert to what’s going on, but not overwhelmed by it all (v. 7) since we have the resource of prayer.
Then, realizing the tendency to be self-centered in troubled times, he exhorts us to be others-oriented, demonstrating love (v. 8), extending hospitality (v. 9), and employing our spiritual gifts for the benefit of other people and the glory of God (vv. 10-11).
In addition, we must be careful to have a constructive attitude toward our trials, rejoicing in them insofar as we are able to be partakers of Christ’s suffering (vv. 12-14). And if our suffering is due specifically to our Christian testimony, instead of being ashamed, we should be eager to glorify God in the suffering (vv. 15-16).
By the way, how do we do that?
By cheerfully trusting in His wisdom behind the situation, His grace to endure the difficulty, and His sovereign purpose for it all (v. 19).
Let’s be honest. This isn’t the way we’re naturally wired to respond when things aren’t going our way, is it? In fact, our natural inclination is to do exactly the opposite of how Peter exhorts us to respond: prayerless, self-centered, depressed, timid, complaining, and anything but trusting in the Lord.
We’re also going to be miserable if we follow our natural, sinful inclinations. So, let’s pursue the better path…the path our Lord Christ chose! Circumstances may be hard when we’re “partakers of Christ’s sufferings,” but “when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy!” (v. 13)