After You Have Suffered for a Little While…
Suffering is real. Dr. William Jones, who was one of my professors in divinity school wrote and lectured often on suffering. He had just published a book entitled, “Is God a White Racist?” Part of my recollection from those days was Dr. Jones speaking about suffering in the context of the question of theodicy: If God is all good, all knowing and all powerful, why does evil exist?
As a 21 year old student, I would often reflect upon the question of theodicy and came to the conclusion that we will probably never know why evil and suffering exists, but the God in heaven who knows and loves us will walk with us, talk with us, and see us safely to a life beyond suffering and pain, in this world as well as the world to come.
Part of my ministry has been political as a two-term, elected member of the Detroit City Council for eight years. Reflecting upon those years, which were rich with the heady excitement of participating in the revitalization of an old “rust belt” city, was the honest admission that sometimes I suffered for my faith. Why do I say this? There were times when I think that because I was an ordained minister and pastor of a church, there were some people with an interest in getting city contracts were uncomfortable with me because of the assumption of my moral footing. Some mocked me for trying to have a sense of propriety. Even today, I run into people who tell me they thought I was “Too nice to be in politics.” Despite all that, for me it was a powerful experience and I will always be grateful. When I look back on those years, I think about the words of the Apostle Peter in chapter 5 of his first letter. Peter recognizes suffering, but also taught that God will provide restoration, support, strength and the establishment of our lives. God has blessed me in ways that has caused me never to look back with regret. Whatever I lost was restored. Where I was attacked, I was made strong. When I needed support, the Lord gave me support, and my faith has caused me to be established on a firm spiritual foundation.
Peter acknowledges the reality of suffering, and then flips pain and distress to the restoration, strength and establishment that God will provide through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 5: 10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.
Questions for Reflection:
- What are your thoughts about Peter’s encouragement that after we “have suffered for a little while,” God will restore, support, strengthen and establish you?
- Other thoughts on this passage of scripture?
Prayer: Lord, hear my prayer. Lord, stand by me in those moments when I suffer for my faith. Through the years, Lord, you have been my strength. At every stage of my life, you carried me when I slipped, spoke to me when I would not listen, fought for me when I could not or would not fight for myself, and shown me love in my loneliness. When the suffering is past, Lord, I seek your face, that you will restore me, support me, strengthen me and establish me on a level plane in the glory of your name. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.
Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/