Suffering for the cause of Christ is something that should be embraced not something we should run from.
Peter tells us that Christ suffered for us in the flesh and as His followers we are to expect to follow in His footsteps. But the truth is, in America, we are not faced with the kind of suffering that many Christians both now and in the past have faced. Generally, we do not suffer and die because of our faith here in America.
But this passage still holds an admonition for us. While we are not persecuted for our faith there is still a degree of suffering that we must face - it is the suffering of dying to ourselves.
Jesus tells us that anyone who would want to be His disciple must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow. That understanding of taking up your cross when spoken in His time clearly meant execution on a cross. Jesus' listeners understood that to be a disciple meant that they were to confess Jesus as Lord and then live out the implications of Him being Lord, even if that meant death.
For us the confession of Jesus as Lord may not automatically result in death in America but the truth is it causes great suffering as we must choose to let the old nature remain dead. We need to arm ourselves with the knowledge and resolution that in order to live a life surrendered to the Lordship of Christ will require great sacrifice as we die to ourselves.
We must strengthen our resolve to do what God wants not the evil things that the world wants us to do.
We must not waste our time doing what the old (dead) nature wanted to do: always getting drunk, having wild and excessive parties and living extravagantly wasteful lives.
Our new life of surrender to Christ as Lord should not be approached as a chore but with joy that we are getting to share in the Master's sufferings and one of the best ways we can die to ourselves is by serving others.
Serve others by praying for them.
Serve others by loving them deeply and forgiving them.
When God blesses you with material blessings then be generous with it and don't just keep it for yourself.
We may not be dying for our faith in America but we are still called to die for the sake of serving Christ our Lord. Let us die to ourselves and let us do so with glad hearts because it is by God's grace we have been saved and out of the overflow of gratitude we are willing to give our lives completely to the One who saved us.