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The Lord never promised that the Christian life would be easy – he warned his people that it would be tough (John 16:33). One of those who heard Jesus’ warning was Peter. In 1 Peter he warns of the devil’s hostility (5:8) and earlier refers to ‘the fiery trial’ (4:12 ESV). Though these are fearful things, the Christian need not feel overwhelmed. We consider the encouragement offered in 1 Peter 5:10-11 The God of all grace.
1. The gracious call
The starting point must not be our experience but the truth about God. The reference to ‘the God of all grace’ is crucial. ‘Grace’ is freely-given favour to those who deserve condemnation. Grace is closely linked to the love of God, a demonstration that ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:16) and ‘all grace’ covers every conceivable form of favour to undeserving sinners. God is the possessor and source of ‘all grace’, and is also the giver of it. This God ‘called you to his eternal glory in Christ’. The call is his sovereign, effectual call brought home to the heart by the Holy Spirit which conveys new life and always results in faith and repentance. It is all ‘in Christ’ – designed to unite us to him. We were ‘chosen in him before the foundation of the world’ (Ephesians 1:4). Salvation’s goal is ‘his eternal glory’ – we will share the glory that Peter glimpsed at the transfiguration (2 Peter 1:17-18). We will be fully ‘transformed into his likeness’ (2 Corinthians 3:18).
2. The limited suffering
Peter introduces what may seem a jarring note – ‘after you have suffered a little while’. God’s call and the prospect of glory do not mean for Christians a life free from suffering. Jesus warned of ‘tribulation’ (John 16:33). Christians face the same trials as others (illness, loss, etc), and also the spiritual battles that result from our belonging to Christ. These, however, are for ‘a little while’ – limited by the sovereignty of God. Our times are in his hands (Psalm 31:15) and glory will ultimately be revealed in all believers (Romans 8:18).
3. The full restoration
Beyond the suffering, God ‘will himself restore you’. The word is used of a doctor setting a broken bone and of fishermen repairing nets. God repairs what is broken in us and restores us to useful service. The work of the Holy Spirit is to restore us so that we reflect the likeness of Christ, reversing the damage dome by sin. The Lord will ‘confirm, strengthen and establish you’ – as we use the means of grace he provides, we have a solid foundation for life. Even suffering leads to growth when received in the right way (Romans 5:3) – a big challenge to us.
4. The hearty praise
It is appropriate in the light of all that Peter has said that he ends with praise. It is essential that our whole spiritual life is God-centred – ‘to him be the power for ever and ever’ – A heart acknowledgment of what he possesses. God is able to do all he plans for us. We have assurance of the certainty of salvation. ‘Amen’ – ‘so be it’ – is the voice of faith.