In the Heat of Battle: Suffering is Normal

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(Today's post by Britt Ozburn)

1 Peter 4:7-19

It was June, 1944, in France. Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Army had conquered most of Europe and helped bring the world into the turmoil of World War II. The situation seemed difficult at best, hopeless at worst, and many wondered if these forces could be stopped. The United States and its allied partners knew it would take a response of epic proportions to rid Europe of the Nazis and bring an end to this time of crisis in our history. A plan was devised and required the cooperation and resolve of many nations’ armies, including our own families, friends and neighbors (including my Mom’s Uncle Charlie Mask). Some soldiers would land across the entire French coast on foot, and some would jump out of planes and parachute into enemy territory, and drive Nazi forces out of France into Germany, and march into Berlin to declare victory.

In considering my response to 1 Peter, I picture a pack of paratroopers huddled in a plane over enemy territory, with the group leader disclosing orders and preparing his fellow soldiers, about to parachute into battle. He’s telling the soldiers that they have little time, things will be rough where they are going and what they will be armed with upon landing: Prayer, Love and Service.

​“The end of all things is near. Therefore, be clear minded and self-​controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, ​because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another ​without grumbling.” (Verses 7-9)

At Verse 12, the pre-battle talk goes in an unexpected direction: the suffering they will soon endure should be welcomed. I would be tempted to look at the soldier beside me and say “Is he crazy? I’d rather be home with my family. This is awful!” (In a situation like war, it would be tempting to use less family-friendly language). Peter then drives home the point that this suffering, the kind that comes for being associated with Christ, identifies us with Christ, and that God’s Own Spirit rests within us. “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (Verse 13). My Study Bible points out that it was Peter, himself, that chastised Christ for suggesting that He should suffer (Mark 8:32-33). Peter, the young private in the 8th Chapter of Mark, has grown into a leader with a polar-opposite viewpoint to pass onto his paratroopers. When you suffer, rejoice, as you are blessed, and praise God.

“So then those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (Verse 19)

What does suffering look like in your life? What’s your response?

Have you, or someone you know, been insulted, or worse, for having anything to do with the name of Jesus Christ?

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  • James Rooks

    Good stuff this morning.

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