1 Peter 2:21-25
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
No one welcomes mistreatment. Few would choose to live in a state of enslavement if any chance of obtaining one’s personal freedom were possible. Yet a good number of early Christians were slaves. Rome looked for 500,000 additional slaves annually to meet the manpower needs of the empire. As the opportunity for Christian faith was offered, a good number of those enslaved trusted Christ.
Believing slaves were “free in Christ” and “equal heirs” of God in the Church, but their position in society-at-large remained the same. Not a few were in less-than-encouraging situations, oft subjected to personal suffering. Not surprisingly they wondered if God would rescue them, or at least bring some longed-for relief.
Prompted by the Holy Spirit, Peter sets a different frame around their circumstances:
“Your suffering is a divine calling; your situation is being managed by God’s care; your responses can be that of your Savior’s.”
Peter dares to suggest that the unjust treatment and suffering can bring redemption and healing change into the lives of others.
What’s more, there is a Shepherd who oversees your life, even in its most difficult episodes. His promises assure that we are being led purposefully into a future of rest and joy with Him. The Good Shepherd promised, “Behold, I am with you always.” Thus David sung, “The Lord himself is my Shepherd; I shall never be in want.”