But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.
1 Peter 3:14-15, NASB 1995
These are trying times. The battle can seem to be lost at times when we look at it purely horizontally. But this verse makes a startling claim: if you suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed! Say what? In suffering, I am blessed? How is that? It is right there in this verse, speaking directly into my situation: do not fear… don’t let fear remain on the throne; do not be troubled… and don’t let worry stay there either, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your heart.
This reminds me of these words from our 16th president, on the occasion of the dedication of the Gettysburg battlefield:
“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power…”
Lincoln recognized that making speeches over the battlefield are not what sanctified it, or set it apart. It was sanctified by the devotion shown by those who struggled there. Simply calling Jesus “Lord” in times of peace and safety cannot establish Him on the throne of my heart. However, allowing Him to displace my fear and doubt during times of trouble can. When I am in the midst of suffering and yet still recognize that I am His and that I was made to depend on Him no matter what, that is when I experience Him reigning as my King.
This passage in 1 Peter 3 goes on to say that we should always be ready to explain why we have hope in the midst of trouble. Peter is saying that we should have hope and that it should be evident to those around us so that they will ask why! Perhaps this is His purpose in allowing our suffering. Indeed, that is the best blessing of all, to know that no matter what, I am His, and in the midst of trouble, He is working to reveal Himself in me! If the glorious, victorious, risen Christ is Lord of my heart, what can man do to me?
Lord, I praise You for Your undisputed Lordship over heaven and earth. But I need to know if You see me today, right now, in the midst of my fears and my doubts, in my situation. I need to know that You are near. Lord, show me Your deliverance, Your power, and Your glory! Amen.
Copyright Jere Vandewalle.
Jere is the Director of Operations for Christian Educators.