"But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."
1 Peter 4:19
"So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good."
Rejoice in sufferings?..... hmmmm.... you have got to be kidding me right? We always hear this when we go to church or small groups or wherever and they talk about suffering... But do we really understand it? Have we truly ever grasped the deepest feeling and thoughts of rejoicing in our suffering? I think if we are all honest with ourselves and with God, which it doesn't matter if you are or not because he's omniscient, every last one of us, most likely, does not rejoice when we suffer, myself included. I know when I suffer, the first thing I do on instinct is think, "what can I do to get myself out of this situation," and then continue to think about how tired I am of suffering. So let's talk about that rejoice word then; the word rejoice is defined as to delight in or gladden, to become overly joyous. The antonym, or the word that represents the opposite, would be sad; funny how that works, because all of our natural initial reactions to suffering are the opposite of what God tells us to feel... We feel sad... or angry, or depressed, or apathetic, or annoyed. Where along the way did we develop these feelings? I think in the beginning we all feel like God owes us something, like we have earned something, or deserve God's blessing. WRONG!!! ha I used to have that mindset all my life until I woke up and realized, God owes me nothing! If anything I owe him! So the next question here is, how do we rejoice? You don't have to wear the biggest smile and dance around and be all merry to rejoice, although we probably should. No, rejoicing can be as simple as going into prayer and talking to God saying, "Lord, I'm suffering right now and struggling and I don't think what's happening is fair and it sucks. But Father, I also know that you're beside me and you love me and you forgive me, and you have loved me, and you always will love me. Father I also know that with my eyes on the Cross, I see that you came down in the flesh and suffered for me to save my soul, but also so you could experience the worldly struggles we deal with. Father I'm struggling, but I rejoice in the fact that I have you and your grace is sufficient for me. I know you can't take the hurt and immediate struggles away Lord, but I know that you'll be with me always and that with you and your strength, I can overcome any struggle."
The word participate indicates that there is already something occuring or something that's been going on; it's not beginning with you, but being carried on or you are just jumping on the bandwagon. I think it seems like such a miniscule word in passing just reading through the scripture, but the word participate was used extremely carefully here, just as every word of the Bible is, to show us something when actually studying the Word. This one word reminds us that when we suffer, we arn't the only ones that have done it or are doing it. This word reminds us that Christ was misunderstood, spat on, hated, whipped, flogged, bloodied, beaten, nails driven through his hands and feet, 3 inch long thorns stuck into his skull and crucified.... all before we were even thought of.
When we tell people who are suffering to keep their eyes on the cross, I want this to come to mind as a mental image every single time.... no amount of suffering we could go through would ever come near what this man suffered. The man in this picture, Jesus Christ, is God of all creation who allowed himself to suffer in such a way, when at any time he could have stopped it, but loved us so much he allowed himself to be crucified as a sacrifice for our sins and sins to come that we may have a relationship with God and enter the kingdom of heaven. Wow.... So we are not alone, but participating....
"His glory," a.k.a. God's glory... Don't get selfish here people.... the world does not revolve around you, the existence of all of mankind does not depend on me and whether I do this or that. I want to make you and myself feel small, as we are, so instead of typing a 5000 page response to this word that could go on forever, i'm going to give you a link to follow. It's called Indescribable by Louie Gigglio. There are 5 parts, so watch them all.
Commit: Let's think of the ultimate commitment here, it's gonna be a little extreme, but God is extreme, the Bible is extreme, so we are gonna be extreme. In marriage, commitment is vital and one of the building blocks of the foundation. "commit themselves to their faithful Creator;" so if we consider the word commit in this scripture as a marriage, or ultimate commitment, to our Creator, God, then we get a sense of how our relationship with him should really be. Yea your husband or wife is your significant other, your better half, your lover, your hubby, your shnookums (whatever pet names ya'll call each other brandon and danielle! ha), but the Lord is our CREATOR!!! Genesis 2:7 says:
"the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his
nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
So we marry ourselves to the very one who breathed life into us. We belong to the Lord God and that's where our emptiness inside comes from until we fill it with Christ. God calls us to completely sell out for him, to commit. He doesn't just want part of our lives or some of our relationships or for us to smoke once a week or drink twice a week as opposed to every day.... God wants EVERYTHING!! He is jealous for us and wants all of you. When you marry, do you only give half of your heart to your spouse? No you give it all... So give it all and more to the one who "breathed into your nostril the breath of life."
Are you rejoicing? Do you participate in suffering or think of yourself? Is the glory focused on you or the Creator? Are you committed and married to the Lord? I'll leave you with this scripture that's simple to follow, no excuses, just do it.
Matthew 6:33 "Seek first His kingdom, and all these things will be give to you."