When I arrived at work one June morning, my legs trembled, my heart raced, and I fought tears. My work had to be done, somehow. Sleep had eluded me again.
After I waded through the morning, lunch break came. I stood in line and ordered my meal, collapsed into a chair, and cried. Sarah* joined me, an older woman who had become a dear to me. She asked me what was wrong.
I struggled to describe my turmoil, asking her why it was happening. Then Sarah opened her Bible and read a verse aloud that astounded me:
“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,” 1 Peter 5:10 KJV.
I wept as I listened, too upset to eat or fully absorb its meaning. However, her kindness and love gave me hope. I stopped crying and was able to eat during the second lunch period.
Sarah's kindness has been a treasure to me. And I've remembered this verse. Reading interpretations of it were enough before. But now I have dug deeper to grasp the truths here.
God saves his own by grace, through Jesus Christ, calling them to one day share his eternal home. Soothing words were paired with words I didn't want to hear: “after that ye have suffered a while”. The word “suffering”, refers here to the human suffering of Christians.
But, I've learned that God has a good purpose in mind.
God uses suffering to make us “perfect”, or “to render complete”. He does this by refining the dross from us to leave precious gold. None of us enjoy pain, but God will use it to make us holy like his Son. It may not seem good now, but it will be worth it in the end.
“Stablish”, or establish, means "to fix, make fast, to set" Once that is done, we can grow spiritually. Another word for this is “confirmed”. God wants Christians to be solid in their faith and live it out.
Jesus commanded Peter to “strengthen the brethren,” (Luke 22:32). In that verse, “establish” was translated as “strengthen”. In 1 Peter 5:10, Peter said that God wanted to "stablish them (in every good work and word);" God is so good to teach and enable us to grow, in person, and through others.
When Peter said, “strengthen”, he means that God also uses suffering to make our souls stronger. We can live with struggles that we wanted to flee from before. James 1:4 tells us to “let patience have it's perfect work”. Suffering is what teaches us endurance.
And, “settle” means laying a foundation, or grounding us. For example, in Eph. 2:17, believers are urged to be grounded “in love”. And in Col. 1:23, believers are urges to be grounded “in the faith”. These are true believers who continue to live their faith.
Since God's work in us is life-long, the work he began will continue to become more complete. Our souls will grow solid in our faith and grow stronger. We will learn to live lives of faith and love unfazed by whatever life gives us. There is hope.
I'm so thankful. Words that had confused me before are now the right words to encourage me.
*This name was changed to protect privacy.