My reading for today was 1 Peter 3:8-22 (Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake). While the instructions of HOW to act are throughout these verses, the WHY is buried in v 15.
“… always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”
Then it hit me. Will people ask me what gives me hope when all is going well? Of course not, they will assume that my circumstances warrant hope. However, when I am suffering, yet still have hope… now that will be a paradox that will stand out to the unsaved.
We’ve all experienced ‘suffering’ in our lives, although at different levels. Though I’ve had my share as well, I’ve never had to face what has to be one of the most traumatic suffering events, the loss of a child. I do however have friends that have faced this, most of whom were people of strong faith themselves.
My first experience seeing this “suffering for righteousness sake” was when I bumped into an old co-worker from a previous job. She had been pregnant with her first child when I left that job over a year ago. She was SO excited to become a mom, it’s what she wanted most in this world. So naturally when I saw her around 6-8 months after her due date, I asked “How’s motherhood treating you?” I can still see the look in her face as I type this. After a short but awkward pause, she said “we lost her at birth”.
The amazing part of the conversation that followed was her testimony. She and her husband are strong Christians but many of their family members were not. As they hung on tight to the strength in Christ, they were asked “How can you possibly have hope?” Through this awful suffering, they were able to share their testimony, their hope in Christ Jesus, over and over again. As several family members watched for a while, they saw that this was not just a crutch to get them through a tough time, but they were seriously getting strength from this Christ figure. As a result of this horrific tragedy, several new believers were saved.
So, was this unbelievable suffering worth it. Absolutely. Yes, they have a lifetime on earth without their daughter. But their daughter is in heaven celebrating with the angles the number of souls that were saved as a result.
Your suffering may be there to make YOU stronger. But it also may be there to give you a chance to be a witness. Be prepared to tell people where you draw your hope from.