Wednesday, 18 December 2019
Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. 1 Peter 4:19
Peter now sums up his thought concerning suffering. He has been speaking of it in various ways, but in the immediate context, he has been referring to his words of verse 4:12 concerning the fiery trial which may try believers. In such trials and sufferings, he says, “Therefore.”
This is the hint that his words will sum up what has been said, and they will provide an explanation and admonition for the believer who suffers concerning his situation. The admonition begins with “let those who suffer…” If a believer, and if suffering for your faith, Peter will instruct what should be done about that situation. However, before giving the rest of his admonition, he says, “according to the will of God.”
This is the explanation. It is suffering which is “according to the will of God.” In other words, if one suffers, it may or may not be a noble thing. If a Christian gets in trouble with the law and winds up in prison, his suffering is a self-inflicted wound. It wasn’t according to the will of God if he disobeyed the law of the land. Peter is referring to suffering reproach in the name of Christ (4:14, for example).
Understanding this, if any believers are suffering according to God’s will, let them “commit their souls to Him.” The words “to Him” are inserted, but they carry the correct meaning. Believers are to take the suffering of their souls and commit it to God who is the One who sees all things, knows all things, and understands the reason for the suffering. As it is for His glory, then He will attend to it according to His infinite wisdom. This is certain, because the word which means “let them commit” is the same word Jesus uttered on the cross when He committed His spirit to the Father. It means to set before, or present.
So, believers are to likewise present their souls to God “in doing good.” Even in suffering, the believer is to continue on in a state of doing good. Thus, he continues his testimony, both before those who need Jesus, and before the Father who will judge all actions according to the state in which those actions were conducted. There should be a stress on doing good to ensure that it shows forth the act in order to convict those who see it, and also to continue to glorify God.
The word translated as “doing good” is found only here. It signifies not just doing good at something, but the attitude behind it – which is that it originates from faith. It is a surrendering of the individual to God while actively practicing that which is proper. This is because the act is directed to Him “as to a faithful Creator.”
As the Creator, He knows what is best for His creatures. As He is loving, He would not allow those creatures who are faithful, and who acknowledge Him, to suffer without a reason. Therefore, in suffering for what is good, there will be a time when the reason for what has occurred is made manifest. The job of the believer is to accept the suffering as His will, and to continue to bring Him glory through it.
Life application: If we go skiing and become paralyzed from a broken neck, we commit our soul to whoever will tend to us for the duration of our years. But if we suffer according to the will of God, for any reason, we can confidently commit our soul to Him because of our good deed – whatever it may be.
And what else can we do but rejoice at the suffering we experience? What occurred was done according to His will and was thus ordained by Him for the benefit of
1) ourselves (see Romans 8:28),
2) for those who participate in the process, and
3) for the sake of the gospel.
As Peter says, God is a “faithful Creator.” Knowing this allows us to understand that what we face is serving a good and logical purpose. So be content with this knowledge. The instance of the skiing accident can be used by God as well for His great purposes. Those who have been in accidents which resulted in physical trauma have used their disabilities to touch thousands and even millions of others.
A classic example is Joni Eareckson Tada who was paralyzed in a swimming accident. Her suffering through pains and trials is great, but her ministry has tended to multitudes in the name of Christ. Be content in your suffering such as she is, and as so many others have been. Remember that our loving Creator is working out His plan in a glorious way.
Lord God, when we suffer – whether it is from another’s hand or from our own aches and pains of this earthly body – may You use our suffering in a way which will bring You great glory. We commit our souls to You, knowing that Your plan is far greater than the one we would otherwise follow. Thank You for using us in the way that is appropriate to You! Amen.