1 Peter 1:8
• Five Minute Friday :: Suffer Linkup
To suffer is to bear, hold up, let, allow, permit. You may have heard the translation of Jesus' plea recorded in Matthew 19:14, "Suffer the little children come to me, and do not forbid them, for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
Common parlance has translated suffering into pain, trials, and anguish, which isn't an extreme stretch, because in a sense we do allow unpleasant events to prevail for a while, though many times we have no choice.
Our FMF host Kate explained she chose the word suffer because she loves the reminder in 1 Peter that any suffering is only for a finite length of time. Kate quoted the NIV, "…you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.
Several years ago I illustrated an 8-part series of verses from 1 Peter and 2 Peter. It was unusual because the pieces all were different sizes and different styles. Typically overall style, color palette – or minimally size – ties together a group of designs produced under the same heading, but this was different. Today's prompt prompted me to use my illustration from 1 Peter 1:8 to head today's post. The RSV I used tells us we "rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy."
A few verses earlier 1 Peter 1:3 reminds us God has given us new birth into a living hope through Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead. Some translations says we have been "reborn."
Churches that observe Lent are at the halfway point to Holy Week when we remember Jesus arrest, trial, conviction, and crucifixion. We listen to the passion narrative about the literal pain and suffering Jesus allowed. But we need to remember when Jesus himself predicts his suffering and death, he also includes his resurrection, his rising. To be raised from death? You first must die. For the apostle Paul, the gospel is death and resurrection.
Whether we ponder and endure our own sore trials, consider the cost and outcome of those Jesus experienced, or look with sorrow-filled horror on atrocities in our own countries or places like Ukraine, it truly helps our endurance and patience to remember pain and death is not God's final answer.
1 Peter opens by addressing God's people who live as strangers, those who are resident aliens wherever they may be. NRSV says "exiles of the dispersion." That language is marked, pointed, and precise.
The pair of letters 1 Peter and 2 Peter were written to the church in diaspora that lived weekdays amidst ethnic, cultural, often linguistic and culinary strangeness; on Sundays they gathered as permanent citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. 1 Peter and 2 Peter remind us the church always is in exile, always has at least a hint of strangeness and stranger-ness vis-à-vis those around them, even when they themselves are voting citizens in that place, under that government.
At the heart of the story of Jesus of Nazareth stands the seven days we call Holy Week: a crucified man – but – then an empty grave. As we continue in Lent, as we anticipate Holy Week and suffer through Jesus' passion alongside him, we know the Day of Resurrection will be here.