1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”
If you think it is hard for us to wait for relief, think of the poor people to whom Peter was writing. They were suffering for their faith. From Peter’s letter we glean that they were mocked and ridiculed for their morals and values. This was more than a disagreement about ideas. Many of their unbelieving neighbors considered their godly behavior evil. Physical persecution was waiting just around the corner for them. Such is life in the waiting period between Christ’s first and second coming.
But they weren’t the only ones who suffered. The temptation when we suffer is to blame God for treating us unfairly. We think that our better than average behavior should be rewarded with some extra protections, or some additional successes, or a little bit more of life’s good things. At the very least we should be on the same plane as everyone else. Why should I hurt for doing good?
For starters, it is far better than hurting for doing evil, Peter reminds us in the previous verse. And then he points to Christ. He suffered, too. Jesus died for sins, literally Peter says he “suffered” for them in the original, but not sins he had committed. Christ suffered as “the righteous for the unrighteous.” He was the good man taking the heat for the wicked. He was the fall guy for everyone else’s crimes, as though he had been framed, except that both he and our heavenly Father fully knew what was going on as Jesus’ trials, beatings, and crucifixion unfolded. They had planned it all themselves.
Right away, then, we can count at least two good things that have come to those who suffer while they wait because Christ has suffered, too. Christ’s suffering means our forgiveness. We may blame God (unjustly) for our suffering, which ultimately is not his fault. But he does not turn around and blame us for sins which really ARE our fault. Christ died, he suffered, for sins once for all. All our guilt is paid for.
Secondly, we have a Savior who can sympathize with us in our suffering. He’s been there. He understands. He is like the best possible member of your support group. People don’t go to support groups because the other members necessarily have all the answers. Often, they don’t. But as people who share the same problem, they understand what it is like in a way that many others can’t.
Jesus actually does have all the answers we need. Even more, as a fellow sufferer, he assures us we have a God who understands us at the level of heart and experience. He gets the whole picture. We can trust him for a whole solution.