A quick thought this morning from Peter’s concluding exhortation to those who were going through a season of suffering.
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
(1Peter 4:19 ESV)
While doing good . . . That’s the phrase that caught my attention this morning as I wrapped up the fourth chapter of Peter’s first letter.
These believers were suffering because . . . well, because they were believers. Thus, Peter says, they were not to be surprised at the fiery trials that were testing them because they were sharing in Christ’s sufferings. That, in fact, they should be encouraged, even in their sufferings, because just as Christ’s suffering brought God glory (Jn. 17:4), so too their sufferings would eventually culminate in rejoicing when “His glory is revealed” (4:12-131). Therefore, Peter says, they were suffering according to God’s will. I get it. And, therefore again, they needed to “entrust their souls” to their faithful Creator.” I get that too.
But while they were to keep on enduring the season, and to keep on trusting the Creator, they were also to keep on doing good. That’s a little less intuitive.
Peter just assumed that hard times didn’t mean a timeout. That carrying an extra load didn’t preclude running the race. In fact, to keep on doing good, even while times were not so good, would in fact serve to actuate their calling as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1Pet. 4:9).
I get the temptation to want to sit it out when it’s hard to gut it out. To take a pass when there’s pressure. To try and reclaim some margin by retreating from the mission.
But Peter’s exhortation assumes that we double down on trusting our souls to our faithful Creator even as we double down on doing good. On being salt and light in a world in much need of salt and light. To be available to alleviate suffering even as we deal with suffering. To continue to esteem others better than ourselves (Php. 2:3-4) when everything in us just wants to look out for ourselves.
Doing good as a response to suffering is only reasonable as we have the mind of Christ (Php. 2:5-8). Only possible as we rely solely on the enabling power of the Spirit. Only desirable as we see it fulfilling our calling as ambassadors of the kingdom.
Only possible by the grace of God. Only desirable for the glory of God.