READ : 1 Peter 4:12-19
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you. (v. 12)
If you are reading this devotional somewhere in North America it may be difficult to feel the force of Peter's warning. He sees fiery ordeals coming for all who follow the Crucified One. Peter wrote in the heyday of the Roman Empire. Josephus tells us of one emperor who enjoyed catching flies and stabbing them with a pen. He liked to watch gladiatorial fights between women and dwarfs. So suspicious was he of plots against his life, he eliminated numerous suspect Roman officials. The emperor had himself officially titled in Rome as “God the Lord,” and anyone who objected was thrown to the lions or burned at the stake. No surprise when a tyrant causes fiery trials.
The noble Ugandan students I mentioned the other day are as joyful and buoyant a band of believers as I have ever known. Yet they all have endured fiery trials and bear bodily scars as witness to their persecution. They know pain personally. Last summer I visited them and spoke at a pastor's conference in Kampala. If I close my eyes, I can hear them singing a haunting song a capella: “Jesus, we are here! Jesus, we are here! Jesus, we are here! Jesus, we are here for you!” And their being there for Jesus means they are ready to suffer with him! “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you . . .”
Help us, Lord, to suffer with you.