How can suffering be blessed? There is one and only one way. It is when you suffer while you love God. In fact, Peter tell us that we are called to obtain the blessing because we do not revile when we are reviled. Peter seems to assume that each one of us will have opportunities to follow Christ in the way of suffering unjustly. Here are a few of Peter’s thoughts on the subject of blessed suffering:
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing….. Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed (I Peter 3:8-9; 13-14).
Laura Story wrote the words to the song: Blessings after her husband was diagnosed with cancer, and she was challenged by her sister to consider the blessings of her tears. Why would her sister say something like that to her? Perhaps she had known the blessings (like this beautiful best-selling song) that awaited Laura if she looked to God as loving her rather than seeing God as someone in power she had to convince to do what she thought was right! This song describes what Peter longs for all Christians to understand about our lives. The good and the bad circumstances of life are equally filled with blessings, though in Peter’s opinion, it seems more blessings are produced by the bad circumstances. She wrote what we all feel:
We pray for blessings. We pray for peace.
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep.
We pray for healing, for prosperity.
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering.
All the while, You hear each spoken need.
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things.
'Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
Laura seems to have learned the lesson that Peter wants us all to know. He wants all Christians to look for the blessings from the hardships that we face. The blessings are there. We just have to learn how to look for them. It’s not natural to see blessings in harsh circumstances. Our natural instincts are to cry for mercy, to demand that God change our circumstances. We rail against God rather than throw ourselves at His mercy and open our eyes to where He supplies mercy. Where are the hidden blessings from a God who offers deep and abiding love in the midst of allowing us to face harsh realities? Is the blessing believing in the love of God in spite of the difficulties of this life? What other blessings can be found? Spiritual growth, humility, longsuffering…need I list more? Don’t miss your blessings as you suffer.