During his ministry, Jesus told his disciples to expect persecution in this world. Jesus even told Peter personally to expect his own martyrdom. Decades later, after the Roman persecution of Christians had begun, Peter passed on the same message, explaining that Christians should expect suffering in this world. 1 Peter uses the words “suffer” and “suffering” more than any other book in the Bible, but paradoxically it is also one of the most encouraging and hopeful books in Bible. This is because 1 Peter explores not only the challenges of the Christian life, but also how Christians can persevere and flourish, by turning their suffering into sanctification.
Peter’s method might be summarized in three steps. The first is to recognize that we are “born again to a living hope,” whereby the trials of this life are only a temporary testing to prove and refine our faith (1 Peter 1:3). Second, we are to “subject [our]selves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake,” not to show agreement or approval of our authorities’ every act, but rather to imitate Christ in his willing acceptance of unjust suffering (1 Peter 2:13). Third, to “rejoice,” for in the midst of such trials we participate in “Christ’s sufferings” and receive the “Spirit of glory and of God” (1 Peter 4:12-14). In this way, we join the pattern of Peter, who learned faith by walking on water, by focusing on Christ instead of the storm.