Why We Need the Bible to Comfort Us in Our Trials
We’re now in week three of our series through Peter’s first biblical letter, otherwise known as 1 Peter.
Two weeks ago, we saw Peter’s salutation (1:1-2), and we learned that he wrote this letter to encourage first-century Christians who were scattered, suffering trials, and living as strangers in this world. Last week, we saw Peter’s praise to God (1:3-9). We noticed that before he calls his readers to any kind of action, telling them how to live in the midst of their trials, he first stands to praise God for his extraordinary goodness in salvation.
Of course, from there, he could have moved directly into his next theme, which is the holy and godly conduct of God’s people. But instead—to further encourage his readers with God’s grace—he makes a brief pause to highlight comforting truths about Scripture. As we noticed some of those comforting truths, we took time to see how Peter highlights the direction of God’s Word.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. (1 Peter 1:10-11 NIV)
Peter informs us that the Old Testament prophets “spoke of the grace that was to come to you.” What was that coming grace? It was “the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.”
For Peter, the Old Testament prophets had been writing about and predicting the suffering Messiah all along. He’s letting us know that the great overarching theme of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is Christ. And not just Christ, but the suffering Christ! For Peter’s first-century readers, and for us today, it serves as a reminder that the trials and difficulties experienced in the Christian life mirror the life of our suffering Messiah, in whom we’ve placed our trust. Or stated in the opposite, the sufferings of Christ parallel the experience of Christians, who also suffer in this evil world, and who also await a later glory.
This idea of a suffering Messiah would not have sat well with the typical first-century Jew. They were anticipating a Messiah of mighty, militaristic deliverance. But even Jesus corrected this idea as he pointed back to the Old Testament Scriptures to show that the Christ had to suffer.
In Luke 24:26-27, after Jesus was raised from the dead and appeared to two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus—who evidently didn’t understand the concept of the suffering Savior—Jesus said to his two disciples, “‘Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Earlier in his earthly ministry, in John 5:39, Jesus said that the Old Testament Scriptures testify about him. In that same narrative, in John 5:46, Jesus said that Moses wrote about him. Granted, Jesus doesn’t mention the sufferings he must endure in the John 5 narrative, but his point in John 5 is that the Old Testament points to him. And when we look at all the shadows of Jesus in the Old Testament, even in just the first book of the Bible, we realize, the Old Testament has been foreshadowing a suffering Christ all along.
In Genesis 3, Jesus is the future son of Eve whose heel would be struck by the serpent, Satan. But, ultimately, he’s also the future son of Eve who would crush the serpent’s head in victory over the serpent. In Genesis 6-8, Jesus is the greater ark who would endure the torrential rains and waves of the great flood, but in whom we are saved. In Genesis 12, Jesus is the blessed future seed of Abraham, who is to expect cursing from the nations, and yet in whom the nations will be blessed. In Genesis 22, Jesus is the greater ram caught in a bush, who would innocently suffer being sacrificed so that humanity could be saved. In Genesis 37-50, Jesus is the greater Joseph, who was betrayed by his own and who suffered injustice, and yet who would save many through those same betrayals and injustices.
All across the Bible, the overwhelming direction of Scripture is Jesus!
The progress of God’s revelation to mankind, as Scripture moves from Genesis to Revelation, may be summarized as promise to fulfillment. The Old Testament continually points us forward to the promised Messiah, the “man of sorrows… familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3 NIV) who would suffer to save us. And the New Testament, in fulfillment of those promises, continually points us back to the cross where Jesus suffered for us, and then forward again to the future glories that will follow when he takes us home. Throughout Scripture, Jesus is the one we’re constantly pointed to because Jesus is the one we constantly need. And if we need Jesus, we must run to the Scriptures!
This is especially true in our trials; we must run to the Scriptures. Why? Because Scripture will point you to Jesus, whom you need most.
When you suffer, you might be tempted to “fix” things on your own, with your own human wisdom and with your own strength, apart from Christ. Or you might be tempted to find comfort in and through other sources, which are often destructive. Just as an example, think of the last major argument you had with your spouse, or one of your kids, or one of your coworkers, or one of your immediate neighbors. How did you self-sooth? Was it through sinful anger? Was it through slandering the other person? Was it through gossip?
Here’s the truth: In our sinful human nature, we will be tempted to respond to our trials in any number of destructive ways. How we should actually respond is by pointing ourselves to Christ. In our trials, our solution will always be Jesus; our greatest comfort will always be Jesus; the one we need most will always be Jesus! And that’s because our ultimate hope is found in him alone.
Furthermore, if we want to respond to our trials with Christlikeness, we need the one source that will always point us to Christ. We need the Word of God.
My dear fellow Christian: Especially in your trials, go to the one place that will always point you to Jesus. Run to Scripture! And find your comfort there.