For three and one-half years, Peter and the other disciples walked with Jesus. They heard Jesus speak and they saw Him perform miracles. On one occasion, Peter was one of the three who was given a vision of the Lord’s heavenly glory. And yet Peter and the other disciples sometimes struggled in their faith. During a moment of spiritual testing, Peter swore with an oath that he had never been associated with Jesus. Peter’s faith was put into the fire and suddenly the impurities were exposed.
On the one hand, we could say that Peter’s failure was a great tragedy. Yet on the other hand, we could say that it was a great victory. During his time of testing, the Lord caused the impurities in Peter’s faith to be exposed. Though it was shameful for these impurities to be revealed, in the end it proved to be for Peter’s good. No doubt men like Peter and Job could say what many others have said – ‘On the other side of this I will be a better man.’
Because of the events in his life, Peter knew what it was like to be tested. He knew what it was like to fail. He also knew what it was like for God to bring something good out our failures. Because of all that Peter experienced in his own life, he was well qualified to encourage other believers who were struggling also.
In order to encourage these suffering Christians, Peter wrote to them –
1 Peter 1:8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.
I wonder if when Peter wrote these words, he was thinking of something Jesus once said to His disciples. The Bible tells us that when the disciples heard that Jesus was alive, Thomas said, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” (John 20:25) Unless I have hard, tangible evidence, I won’t believe.
A few days later, Jesus suddenly appeared to His disciples and looking at Thomas He said, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.
Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (John 20:27-29) It’s one thing for men like Peter and Thomas to trust in Jesus after they had witnessed the many miracles, and something else for us to trust in Jesus when we haven’t seen the miracles. We might say that our faith is nothing but faith.
The fact that people are still turning to Christ two thousand years after His death says something about the power of the gospel. The fact that God’s Word is still convicting men of their sin and changing their lives says something about its supernatural authority. The fact that Christians are still willing to suffer in the 21st century, even as they did in the 1st century, says something about genuineness of our faith.
For the last two thousand years, Satan has been furiously attacking the church, yet he has not been able to defeat it. Jesus said, “…on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) Therefore my brethren, suffer with your head held high! Your courage declares that Jesus is Lord and Satan is a liar!