The churches were under extensive persecution and heavy affliction at the time Peter wrote this. They were considered enemies. Paul died under the rule of Nero. Peter was now imprisoned and knew his time was short. Later on Clement (mentioned earlier by Peter) would let us know that Peter dictated these letters to John Mark. He was chained so Mark did the actual writing it down.
The epistles are not written to a particular church but to the “strangers of God.” The church had sort of exploded and spread, or grown, because of the persecution. We need an explosion today where many continue to be saved. The church was targeted by many, even their own neighbors. It was a disheartening time.
I Peter 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Turning Afflictions into Accomplishments. Afflictions are events/conditions we consider to hinder or weaken us. A physical hindrance pulls us down healthwise. Afflictions by troubles/trials pulls us down too. When we were younger, if we fell down we bounced back quickly. We were more able to do that physically. Now a fall ends up with a trip to the ER. Though afflictions will come–and they will–we can accomplish things. We don’t have to be hindered spiritually. Jesus overcame the world so that we can. He said to be of good cheer. We have a Savior whose accomplishments overcame for us. We do it all through him, not of ourselves.
Afflictions can be in our body or come from the hand of others and they can be from different sources. Affliction means to be inflicted with pain. It hurts. If I went up to Brother Roger and gave him a big hug but at the same time grabbed a bunch of flesh and pinched him, wouldn’t that be something. Sometimes there is a lot of pinching going on. The devil is a lion seeking whom he can devour. A lion is made to devour his prey; Peter tells us this is what the devil is like. He stalks us to inflict pain. The devil cannot run you down if you’re trusting the lion tamer, Jesus Christ. His job is to destroy the works of the devil.
Sometimes afflictions come to our body. As believers, God has prepared us a body after this life is over. Paul tells us this in Second Corinthians 5: we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. I read an article about a young woman who was in an accident that left her in horrible pain. At first she had no eyesight. Eventually that came back but she still had extreme pain from a shattered foot. The doctors told her the only thing that could be done was to amputate her leg. That was shattering to her but she decided to leave it in God’s hands. She had the surgery, eventually got a prosthesis, and now leads a very normal life. She took an affliction and made an accomplishment out of it.
Peter tells us to cast our care on the Lord. Why? Because he cares for us. Verse 6 says Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. A due time is coming! Suffering is only for a while and it will be over. The Bible tells us to be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord. Our body is dissolving. Whatever the affliction, just cast it on the Lord. The end of suffering? It’s glory! The God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
Life’s hardships are not meant to make us bitter–they are to make us better. The God of ALL GRACE–there was grace to save us; there has been grace to heal; grace to forgive our backsliding. What kind of grace do you need today? God knows how to give good gifts to his children. His intention is to call us to eternal glory. He deserves for us to listen to him and trust him. He’ll lead us through the valley–the time of affliction–and take us out the other side. Affliction is for just a while. God’s glory is eternal. What’s down the road is far better. It pays to pray. It pays to say, “Lord, I’m trusting you.”
One day we’ll be able to say “Lord, I’m coming home.” Until then we have all we need to turn affliction into accomplishment. What God doesn’t deliver us from he will lead us through. So we can’t lose. With God it’s better later than now will ever be. Until then, rejoice in the Lord always…and again I say, rejoice!