After You Have Suffered Awhile 1 Peter 5:10
Life hurt for the believers that received Peter’s letter. We may not readily identify with these brothers and sisters in Christ because we live in an age in which suffering is foreign to us. Seldom have we suffered because of our faith in Christ. Peter’s first audience, on the other hand, endured persistent trouble because they believed in and lived for the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 5:10 was written as an encouragement to them. While we may not live in the same world they lived in, the promise here is a precious one for us also when trials press upon us. Peter wrote: “[Now] may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” If we are going to apply this promise, we need to understand a little of the context. We also need to understand the promise given to us.
The Apostle Peter laid the foundation for God’s promise in 1 Peter 5:6-7. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” God had a plan for each of these troubled believers. Their troubles and trails, the persecutions they endured, all had a purpose.
Meanwhile, when in the middle of the valley of the shadow of death, how do suffering believers cope? Peter advised, first, they must submit themselves under “the mighty hand of God.” The phrase, “the mighty hand of God,” God used several places in the Pentateuch to describe how God powerfully delivered His people from Egypt. We must not resist what God allowed to come into our lives. Instead, we should seek to determine what He is trying to teach us. Remember James 1:2, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” God can do with us what He wills. We must trust that He knows what He is doing.
Second Peter told his first readers and us what we can do until the Lord exalts us. We need to toss our anxious cares on the Lord Jesus Christ because He cares for us. Are we practicing this discipline?
On the heels of this exhortation, Peter issues a warning. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8–9). We do have a real and a powerful adversary. Satan is real and he is out to get us. Sometimes the word picture here is so vivid we do not grasp that the warning is real. The point is that casting all of our anxieties on the Lord is so difficult for us because Satan resists us. The Devil actively desires to destroy us and make us unusable to God.
Our responsibility is to resist him. We are to be firm in the faith. We must not waiver before Satan. We must assert that God has a purpose in what He is doing. Do not listen to his lies. When trials come, the devil tells us no other Christian ever suffers like we do. God is trying to see how much we can handle. To help us, Peter reminds us other Christians have gone through the same thing that we are currently experiencing. We must remember 1 Corinthians 10:13. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” A good friend and I were walking through a woods near where he lived. We came upon a deep ravine. It looked like the Grand Canyon to me. There was a small ledge we had to walk on along the top. My friend shouted back over his shoulder, “Just follow me.” He scampered along the ledge ahead of me. I shuffled along the ledge after him and I made it through. The only reason I tried was because he had done this before and had gotten through. God has placed a sign at the beginning of any valley of trial to say, “Many have come this way before and the Lord has gotten them through successfully. When Satan lies and tells you that you are the only one who ever suffered like this, remind him other believers have gone this way before and made it through with God’s help.
Taking a firm grasp of the context, let us now look at this incredible promise. “[Now] may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10). I know the verse appears in a different order in some newer translations, but the NKJV actually follows the Greek word order. This is important because in Greek the writer always put the important stuff first.
Peter wanted us to know about what God ultimately planned for His children before he once again visited them where they lived. This promise was because God, who gives all grace to us, allowed trouble to press in upon us. Peter uses a term in 1 Peter 4 10 which is very helpful in thinking about God’s ministry to us. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” The word means variegated or multicolored. The same adjective appears in James 1:2. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” God supplies various colors of grace to help us get through various colored trials. God gives us exactly what we stand in need of when we need it.
God gives us grace. God also in our salvation called us “into His eternal glory in Christ Jesus.” Peter continually underlined our eternal salvation in his letter as a hope we must cling to in suffering. For example Peter wrote,“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:6–9).
God, who gives grace, and promises an eternity full of glory and full of His presence, now for a little while, and because it is necessary, allows us to suffer. Yet, this suffering has a purpose. It produces in us something that nothing else can produce in us.
After we have suffered for a little while, He Himself will restore us. The Amplified Bible translates this, “He will complete and make us all that we ought to be.” Suffering should change us, not into bitter people, but people with a rich relationship with the living God that others can see.
After we have suffered a little while, God Himself will confirm us. The word means to fix fast. The picture is of something that cannot be moved or changed. God allows suffering to make us unmovable in the reality of who He is.
After we have suffered a little while, God Himself will strengthen us. “Those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31). God gives us strength where we are weak.
Finally, after we have suffered a little while, God Himself will establish us and settle us down. God will root us in Him for all eternity. He will also keep us in perfect peace because our minds are rooted in Him.
We in twenty-first century America are not yet called upon to suffer in the same way as those to whom Peter wrote. Still, we all at times must suffer, some of us more than others. I do not know why God allows this to happen. I do know that this truth applies to us. When we are called to suffer, do not spend time and effort in blaming God. Instead, seek to understand what God wants to teach you and take hold of the many-colored grace of God. Each need we have He will supply. Don’t listen to the lies of Satan, hold on to the promises of God.