When I woke up this morning, the first thing that I did was pull up my YouVersion Bible app on my phone and read the verse of the day that pops up. Today it was 1 Peter 4:16 NLT:
But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian…
I can tell you that my first thought when reading this verse at 5:30 am on a Monday morning was not one of encouragement and excitement to get out of bed! I did not ponder the ways that I could “share in Christ’s suffering” today or “take up my cross and follow Him.” In fact, my first thought was honestly how much I really do not want to suffer! I even spent a few moments being raw with God about how I would much rather not suffer if given a choice. I felt in good company knowing that was also the prayer of Christ, but given the outcome for Christ, I was not incredibly encouraged by that either. So, I moved on to the second sentence of this verse:
…Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!
Again, my first thought was not excitement over a calling of suffering, but I decided to meditate more on this verse and as I did the Holy Spirit started to reveal something to me. The privilege being referred to in this verse is not in a calling to suffer. The privilege is in bearing His name! The NIV actually says:
…Praise God that you bear that name
I try to convey to my sons all the time what a privilege it is to be a part of our family. We did nothing to earn a place in this family and no one else could earn their way in either. We were born into it, and we are blessed because of it. Being a Chandler is a name that I want them to be honored to bear. I want them to have such a sense of belonging to our family that, no matter what, they would be proud to be a part of it and they would take ownership of it. I want them to have such a love and honor for their mother and father that even as they grow older they would desire to spend time with us and they would value our input. I also understand I have to be an intentional father to see these things take shape.
Now I get to pass along to my sons the lesson that my heavenly Father reminded me of this morning. That as great as it is to be a part of the Chandler family, it is an infinitely greater honor that we get to bear the name of our God. Again, we did nothing to earn it. We weren’t even born into this family. We were adopted…as sons…and heirs! God looked down on us and showed us His mercy. And we have a very intentional heavenly Father who deserves our love and is worthy of all honor. But, we don’t get to choose what parts we get to participate in. A true son must be committed at all times…in the easy and the hard…in the glory and the suffering. It is all or nothing.
I still can’t say I am excited to suffer, but I can say with pride that I am a son of God, and I will take whatever that comes with! I know that in the end the glory far outweighs any light and momentary troubles I can face on earth. His kingdom come, His will be done…
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:14-17 NIV)