And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5)
Sequences are a feature of our Universe. It’s the way the world works. Day and night are follow each other sequentially. They can’t happen at the same time or they would cancel each other out. It doesn’t matter which comes first, the chicken or the egg, the key thing is that one follows the other. First you learn to walk then you learn to run. First you live and then you die. Everything in its season. When sequences are messed up, things degenerate into chaos and disorder. If you leap before you look you will get hurt. If you shoot first and ask questions later you could be in trouble. Our text teaches us another very important sequence: first suffering, then glory. After you have suffered you will enter eternal glory. If you try and mix these up you will be disappointed. Jesus Himself submitted to, and demonstrated this order. Peter says that the Spirit of Christ in the Old Testament prophets ‘predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.’ First Christ was born in a stable, then He was despised and rejected, then He was crucified, then He died, then He rose again and then He entered into His glory. This is the only way we can follow Him. As Christ-followers we go through suffering first, then we get to enter glory. All this gives us great comfort. It means that if I suffer as a Christian now, I’m on the right track. I’m heading for glory because in an ordered Universe of sequences, glory follows suffering as surely as day follows night. In a Universe that is disordered my suffering could be followed by even more suffering – how horrible! The joy of this text is that the God of all grace will never allow that. He has ordered all things for our good. He has ordered that suffering should be followed by eternal glory. This text also tells us that the sequence ends one day. Look again. It is not ‘eternal suffering’ but ‘eternal glory’. Sure, suffering comes first and then it is followed by glory, but it ends there. The sequence ends on glory! Hooray! So how long do we have to wait? A little while. The length of our suffering is predetermined. It is measured out carefully. It is exactly as long as God has determined. John’s picturesque way of telling us the same thing is by saying it lasts exactly 10 days (Rev 2:10). So, take heart. Today you will experience the suffering part of the sequence. But know that it is short, determined exactly by God, and is leading on to an eternity of glory. PRAY that the God of all grace would Himself, restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.