September 2023: 'A Little While' - 1 Peter 5:10
In his first letter, Peter is writing to Christians who have in some way experienced suffering for their faith. We know this because throughout the letter, he constantly references suffering and what to when you suffer as a Christian. The early Church experienced persecution at different times and places. So, it is likely that these believers had experienced various forms of persecution and suffering. Peter writes to encourage these believers to persevere and endure. They can do this because of the gospel, because their souls are safe in Jesus.
Near of the end of the letter, in verse 10, Peter gives them these words of encouragement,
‘And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever amen.’
I read this recently and was struck by the phrase, ‘a little while.’ One could be forgiven for thinking Peter is being a bit careless! When we are enduring suffering, it feels like an eternity. Whether that is rejection, illness, grief, anxiety or a particular situation that just exhausts you on every level.
‘A little while’ Peter, really?! Yet as is so often the case the word of God reminds us to have an eternal perspective. In the grand scheme of things our lives here are very short and so the suffering we endure, however bad, is for a little while compared with eternity. For those of us in Christ we will have a joyful eternity in God’s presence.
Peter’s words remind us of the words of the apostle Paul who wrote in Romans 8 v 18,
‘For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.’
So glorious is our future that the sufferings of this life pale in comparison to it. Let us be encouraged by these words. We do not need to minimise suffering, pretend everything is ok or put on the stiff upper lip. There is a time to weep, mourn and grieve. Yet we can do so knowing that our suffering is temporary and our joy will be eternal. We will all face trials in this life. Peter having remind them of the hope of the gospel says this in chapter 1:6-7:
‘In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ’
Whatever you are facing today, however difficult it is for a little while and will one day be over. Jesus himself suffered on the cross and rose again for our sins so that we would be welcomed into his kingdom for eternity. The suffering is for a little while but we will be with him in joy forever.