By Marni Montanez
1 Peter 5:9 New Living Translation
9. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters[a] all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.
The first thing we are asked to do in this verse is to stand firm against him. Him who?
The enemy….we must stand firm against the enemy; the one who wants to kill, steal and destroy. We stand against the enemy by standing strong in our faith. Faith is our shield against the lies and deceptions. If we lose our faith we lose our hope; Most of the time it is difficult to keep our shield of faith up. Faith is not emotions, it is an act of our will; a decision to believe and trust. That doesn’t mean we don’t have emotions; there are many times when it is a very normal response to feel something about a situation, and yet still choose in our heart to move forward and trust Him regardless of how we feel.
The second line is a reminder that we are not alone in this walk of faith. Do you ever feel like you are all alone in what you are going through and no one else understands your pain? This verse answers that. Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering. This gives us a connection with other believers that is deeper than a superficial level. We desperately need to see we’re not alone in our suffering. This is very comforting to know.
But how can this be? How can we all experience the same kind of suffering yet live such diverse lives? Some of us are married, some single, some have physical handicaps, others have emotional handicaps. The differences we all have are in-exhaustive. It doesn’t make sense to say we are going through the same kind of suffering. But note that this verse does not say we all experience the same circumstances. Obviously that would be an incorrect statement since it clearly is not true. Suffering is an internal process that is painful and uncomfortable. Everyone has experienced pain, fear, grief, and many other feelings and emotions and if we haven’t experienced those emotions, it is likely that at some point in our life we will.
In Christianity we all have a common theme; we suffer in and for our beliefs. Living in this world but not being of it makes us permanent outcasts and as human beings, one of our desires is to feel like we belong. We must remember that we belong to God and our home is in the Kingdom of heaven.
Challenge: Choose to move forward regardless of what your emotions dictate and see your Christian brothers and sisters as more like you than you believed. You will spend eternity with them. Remember the world as a very temporary residency.
The purpose of this series is to encourage people to live as loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God: Jesus tells us to pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10) God tells us through Micah (6:8), "He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God." And we know from Revelation 21:4 that there will be no more mourning, or crying, or pain, or death. Thus, Christian living requires us to set the standards of these conditions here on earth for our fellow human beings, and for the other animals, as a witness to the rest of the world. To do otherwise is not Christian.