Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Accept the things I cannot change chalk drawing by Tobias Mayer, 2022

But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; / For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
1 Peter 3:14,17

We all experience suffering. Bad things happen to good people. Sometimes, we bring undesired consequences on ourselves, by acting out of integrity, undermining our own values, or our society's code of ethics. This is perhaps what Peter means by suffering for evil doing. We don't set out to do evil to others, often the intent is good, but we cut corners, take shortcuts, cheat a little here and there, tell a lie maybe, hurry. Few are truly evil, but many of us get caught up in wrong behaviour.

But then there are those moments of suffering inflicted upon us through no fault of our own. Loved ones die, businesses fail, natural forces destroy homes or livelihoods, we get caught up in acts of terrorism or poor governmental decisions. How do we handle such moments? This is what Peter is really writing about in this letter, as one commentator puts it:

"How do you react when suffering comes? Many crumble at the mere thought of another pain or trial. Others rise to the occasion. Most of us are probably somewhere in between. Peter's encouragement to his Christian readers is one of perseverance in faith. It isn't enough for us to simply get up every morning and trudge through each day; neither is it advisable to paste a smile on our faces and ignore troubles. Instead, the lesson of 1 Peter is to push through the troubles, recognizing their temporary presence in our lives while walking in holiness and hope as people of faith."1

It's not what happens to us that matters. Bad things will happen from time to time. Maybe more often than we'd like. It is how we respond to what happens to us that is important. These words come to mind.2

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (events)
The courage to change the things I can (my response to the events)
And the wisdom to know the difference.

1 First Peter by Chuck Swindoll
2 Opening lines of The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr, 1932