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4. Peaceful Surrender

We move through our suffering by accepting it, trusting that it is God’s will. In this place of surrender, we are met with the presence and companionship of Christ with us in our trials.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 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.

-1 Peter 5:6-10

The message of 1 Peter is a life-line to us in our suffering. It lifts us out of our despair and gives us purpose with a calling to live for Christ in our trials! But while this purpose might alleviate us from hopelessness, it doesn’t make the pain go away, and it can be easy to lose stamina. In 1 Peter, we’re presented us with the mindset that enables endurance:

The way out is through.  

In other words, the key to making it through your suffering is to accept your suffering. Peter says it this way, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed (1 Peter 4:12-13).” Peter tells us not to be surprised when we suffer. In fact, he goes so far as to encourage us to accept our trials joyfully! We move through our suffering by accepting it, trusting that it is God’s will. As 1 Peter 4:19 says, “Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” 

Now, it can be so difficult to see God in the midst of our pain, but when we choose to trust that our suffering is God’s will, we remind our hearts of several peace-bearing truths: 

First, that our suffering is God’s will means there is a limit to our suffering. Our circumstances are not dependent upon fate or chance but upon the wise and sovereign will of God. Peter states in 1 Peter 5:10: “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.” Because our suffering is within the will and control of God, we can trust that either in this life or our eternal life to come, we will be restored. Christ will right all wrongs; heal all brokenness; and reward all faithfulness. 

Second, that our suffering is God’s will means that our trials serve our good. It most certainly doesn’t always feel this way, and it may take years or even decades to begin seeing the good. But we can trust that the purpose of our pain is not to harm us but to purify us, to sanctify us, to draw us closer to God. 

And third, that our suffering is God’s will means that we are not alone in our suffering. In his time on Earth, Christ experienced immense suffering as he pressed on in faithful obedience to his Father. Therefore, we can be confident in Christ’s empathy and solidarity, and we can bring our burdens to him. Cast all your anxieties on him, 1 Peter 5:7 says, because he cares for you. 

Accepting our suffering as the will of God brings us to reject a mentality of resistance or bitterness and instead embrace a posture of peaceful surrender. As 1 Peter 4:19 words it: entrust your souls to a faithful creator. 

Think about the word entrust. It means to turn over into someone else’s care and protection; to give someone for safekeeping. What would it look like for you to entrust God with your trials and pain as you continue taking steps forward? 

The reality is, it might not be God’s will for us to find relief from our suffering in this lifetime. Such was the case for Joni Eareckson Tada. As a 17 year-old, Joni had a diving accident that left her paralyzed from the neck down. Joni struggled to accept this life-time diagnosis of suffering, walking through a season of intense anger, depression, and spiritual doubt. 

However, by God’s grace, Joni learned how to live with and even thrive in her trials over time. She gained a new perspective that enabled her to see her suffering not only as a burden to bear but as a gift to to accept. In her book “A Place of Healing”, Joni says, “[God] has chosen not to heal me, but to hold me. The more intense the pain, the closer His embrace.”

In the first devotional of this series, I mentioned the intense sickness I experienced in the first half of my pregnancy. In this season of suffering, I first responded by checking out on life. I stopped interacting with God. I stopped pursuing relationships. I sought to numb myself with whatever means possible to get through the day. 

But when the sickness didn’t let up after a few weeks, I realized things needed to change. I needed to be able to show up for myself and for the people in my life. And this change began in my prayer life! I continued to ask God to heal me from my physical pain, but I started praying something new: God, be with me in my pain. The companionship and presence of God with me reinvigorated me to live with purpose again, enjoying God and seeking to bring him glory, even in my suffering. 

The way out is through. 

For those of us walking through suffering, let’s take the courageous step to accept our trials instead of fighting against them. Let’s bring our pain to God, viewing our experiences as opportunities to find deeper intimacy and companionship with Christ. As we allow ourselves to be nourished by Christ’s love and care, we will find ourselves strengthened and equipped to go out and continue living faithfully for him. 

RESPOND: Take a moment to go to God and express acceptance of your suffering as his will for your life in this season. Ask him to give you a deeper intimacy and companionship with him in your trials. 

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