I Peter 4

1Peter 4:12-13 
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
Observation-What does it say?
Peter, the rock, was the author of this letter, which was distributed to groups of churches in what is now Turkey.  He was likely in Rome while he penned this letter while he was on a preaching trip.  It was most likely written during the reign of Nero.  The “fiery ordeal” which he was talking about is most likely a direct reference to the organized persecution of Christians under Nero’s rule.  During this persecution, Christians were regularly tortured in various ways.  One of the most horrific displays of this came through using Christians as street lights.  They would be tied to stakes and burned alive to provide light during the night time hours.  Amidst this, Peter encouraged fellow Christians to embrace the suffering we received with joy in glory it would bring God.
Understanding-What does it mean?                                                                                              
I hate to work out with weights.  There is nothing more loathsome in my opinion than standing in a room, repeatedly picking up something and putting it down again.  It is so, so, so, so, so boring.  Not to mention, it hurts and makes me sore.  Why people pay for a membership to go stand in a room with other stinky people and pick up things is beyond me.  But, I guess it may offer some type of motivation to not suffer this boredom by yourself.  

No matter how badly I hate this dumb ritual, I regularly find myself in my little garage gym, picking things up and putting them down again.  I do it because I have reconciled the fact that it is good for me to suffer in this way.  Suffering, in the form of exercise is nothing new to me.  I have long enjoyed the suffering of long distance running and cycling.  Knowing that each step, or pedal stroke, over a long haul makes me better and strengthens my heart, legs, lungs, and my mind.  My military friends refer to the willingness to accept impending doom as “Embracing the Suck.”

Throughout the first letter of Peter, he encourages us to embrace suffering with open arms.  In contrast to suffering for a better body, suffering for the sake of Christ yields an eternal reward.  The results of exercise are fleeting, especially when the Christmas baked goods enter the scene every December.  But suffering in the name of Christ always yields the everlasting glory.  So while we may never be burned for our belief in Christ, we may suffer in other ways.  We may be looked at as crazy, or silly, for believing in the message of the cross.  Which, in a world  overwhelmed with the need of acceptance, can be a weight that seems too much to bare.  

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the [b]author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Life Application  
Jesus, help me to never take my eyes off you.  Despite the suffering that we may encounter, give me strength to endure until the day I see you.  Help me to look past the things of this world, which can be so enticing, to see what I truly desire, which is to be complete in you. 

-Tyler Galloway