But God will both reward and judge
1 Peter 3:13-4:6, 4:14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. … Christ suffered … to bring you safely home to God. … Remember that they [those who slander you] will have to face God, who will judge everyone, both the living and the dead. … So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.
Don’t worry. Be happy! Don’t these words evoke Timon and Pumbaa sashaying through the jungle? Hakuna matata, right? What do a meerkat and a warthog, a hornbill and hyenas have to do with suffering and judgment, rewards and courage?
According to the Washington Post, “’The Lion King’ is not just a great story—it’s a true story,” the story of Sundiata Keita, the Lion of Mali, founder of the Malian Empire, the largest kingdom in West Africa in the 13th century.
“In some ways, this history makes for a better story than what Disney concocted. It’s a story of a mother who protected her family by fleeing to exile. It’s the story of a disabled man who overcame tremendous physical and political challenges and triumphed by building alliances. It’s about a kingdom in West Africa that eventually became the biggest and richest empire in history, as Sundiata’s reign witnessed dominance in agriculture, gold and trade, and introduced cotton and weaving.”
Each of us is living out a story. What story are you part of? If it were cast on the big screen, what role would you play? Most importantly, do you know who is in charge and how your story will end?
Writing novels has been an amazing experience for me. I sit down to write with an overall idea of the arc of the story and of what will happen at the end. But my characters themselves tell me what happens along the way. I often tell Dave at the end of a writing session, “I was so surprised to find out that Cally … and Charlie …” Dave always wants reassurance that no matter what, the book will end well.
It occurs to me that our life is like that. We don’t know what will happen along the way. But we do know who is in charge. We know he is good. We know he loves us and is on our side. We know we can trust him. We know he has the power to bring everything around to a wonderful conclusion. Even when things get tough, even when we suffer injustice and losses, that’s not the end of the story. The end of the story looks like this:
God himself will be with his people. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever (Revelation 21:4).
So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you (1 Peter 4:19).