Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:6-11 (NIV)
These words are from Peter, the Peter who denied knowing Jesus during the time of His detention and trial. Jesus had forewarned him that Satan desired to sift him as wheat, and so it happened. Peter knows what it was like to have buckled under pressure; he knows what it was like to feel he was being devoured by the enemy; he knows what it was like to realise that he was neither strong, nor firm, nor steadfast. But now, informed by his bitter experience, Peter is bringing these brave words of encouragement to the church in the face of persecution and suffering.
Peter knew the anguish and shame of not being able to keep his promise of loyalty to the Lord. Perhaps he thought he could stay true by the strength of his own effort. But it wasn’t enough. We know that later Jesus met Peter and lovingly restored him from the devastation of his failure and back into the fellowship of His disciples.
Now, in a time of suffering, Peter exhorts the church to be humble under God’s mighty hand. Jesus knows what’s in our hearts. He knows, and now Peter knows, how likely we are to become anxious and worn down in these pressure situations. But there’s a wonderful and reassuring promise for us that in due time, in His time, as we continue to depend upon God and His way for us, that He will lift us up.
So, suffering may come, as it comes to the family of believers across the world. If, and when it does, we are to be alert to the devil’s stealth tactics and stand firm. Even if we wobble under suffering, the God of all grace will restore us and will strengthen us, so that we don’t falter but stay resolute; not in our own strength but through God’s power as we humbly depend upon Him.
Lord Jesus, You remind me that in this world we will have trouble. At the same time You remind me to take heart because You have overcome the world. I need to know this so much and I need You to help me to stand. Thank You.