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  • Writer's pictureKerry Sue Teravskis


Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  1 Peter 4:12-13  (NIV)


While in India about ten years ago, we stayed at a very nice top-ranked hotel in Kolkata, after we had been in concrete and rebar for about two weeks.  We (my family, plus ten other folks from my church) had been in north India, in rustic accommodations but actually unique because we lived with the locals. We cooked our own meals in our own little kitchen while we hand washed our clothes and prepared for the day away. Because of this we had a very limited diet. Very limited.


By the time we got to Kolkata, we were ready for a change to our diet with more substantial food – we have food issues that do require avoidance of gluten and dairy.  For the most part, out motto was, “Eat to survive.”  And we did.  But we were hungry.


The restaurant in the hotel was very accommodating with a chef willing and able to prepare food we could eat.  It was luxurious and downright beautiful.  My diet was more restrictive, so the chef asked me before each meal if I found something I could eat in his display (colorful, aromatic and delicious), or could he prepare something for me?


Every single time I would say, “Surprise me!”


Now, to know me at this time in my life, I really did love surprises and I was able to trust my meals to this perfect stranger-chef because he actually got it.  And I was not disappointed.  I had foods I probably would never order, but my palate still remembers those meals.  They were that good.  Oh to go back and have them.

Fast forward to today.  I have grown out of my love for surprises.  I have had many thrown at me in the ensuing ten years that were surprises by the true definition, but have not been fun, exciting and wanting me to stick around for more.  I am exhausted by the surprises and am ready to stop standing in this line.


Reading what Peter, the Apostle Peter mind you, wrote in 1 Peter, makes one stop and take a breath.  Suffering coupled with the word surprised + participating in the sufferings of Christ.


These are words not to be taken lightly.  Nor to throw out as too hard.  They are hard.  They are difficult to digest and leave one reaching for antacids. 


Why is that?


Peter, who knew the anguish of denying his Friend, his Saviour, his Master, and would go on to suffer a great deal before his agonizing death.  Peter, who was compulsive, head strong and fearless, began to see the power of our suffering being a strong point of connection with the suffering of Christ.


And he used the word, participate.  Paul too, writes in Philippians 3:10 –


I want to know Christ, and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.


Folks, what are we missing?  What are we not talking about in our every-day conversations, our sermons, our prayer life?  How have we dismissed this?  Have we, as a whole,  become fearful of surprises too?  Have we seen suffering and not wanted anything to do with it?  True, pain is not fun, nor what one desires.  At all.

But, if two apostles write about suffering, joy, fellowship with Jesus in His suffering, when we suffer, then we have got to give it more than a passing glance.  No matter how painful or unwelcome we feel it is.


Peter addresses what these trials, testings, sufferings do for us (besides allowing us to participate with Christ in His) –


In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  1 Peter 1:6-7  (NIV)


Need I say more?


No.  Let Scripture speak for itself. 


I have not been asked to like suffering, I have been asked to embrace it.  To love it.  To rejoice greatly, be overflowing with joy. 


In faith, albeit just the size of a mustard seed, I step into this.  Will you join me?


Father, You are amazing and You are a good God. I want everything You have for me - even if it includes surprises. Please surprise me with Your love, grace and goodness. Surprise me with the surpassing greatness of Your Son. I want to know You more, even in the threshold of suffering.





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