“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials…” 1 Peter 1:3-6
“Why are you downcast, O my soul?” (cf. Ps 43:5). What has stolen your joy? What has conquered your spirit? What has cast the gloomy shadow your direction? What holds your hope hostage? There is nothing quite so ironic (or, miserable) as a hopeless Christian. Inevitably, we will face what Peter describes as “various trails.” These circumstances and situations can feel like wave after wave of relentless defeat. There are moments when the darkness seems so suffocating that it’s hard to imagine how any light at all cold penetrate such a formidable depression. Such was the occasion when Peter wrote the words above. It’s notable that the first thing that Peter attempts to do is restore hope to hurting hearts. He presents his struggling audience with a “living hope” by offering the believer the following…
- We Have a Living Hope Because God is Merciful! Hope always begins in the person of God. AW Tozer once famously wrote, “What we believe about God is the most important thing about us.” Why? Because Christian faith and practice flows from the ontology (being) and attributes (character and nature) of God. Because our God is gracious and merciful and kind and benevolent and loving and eternal we can rest assured that there is hope. There is always hope because there is always God!
- We Have a Living Hope Because God Has Made Us Alive! He has made us alive. That is, we have been born “from above.” Even if we lost literally everything, we have been given spiritual life. We are beneficiaries of a New Covenant reality. He is our God; We are his people! Nothing will ever be able to change that.
- We Have a Living Hope Because Jesus Lives! Our hope is not in any outcome or situation. Our hope is in a person- Jesus, the Christ! Because he lives, we will live. Because he reigns, we will never meet an enemy too powerful. Paul describes the resurrected Jesus as the first born from the dead (cf. Col 1:18). The resurrection of life has already begun- It started with Jesus and will culminate on the day of Christ when the Valley of Dry Bones come alive! He lives. We live.
- We Have a Living Hope Because We are Heirs of an Incredible Inheritance! This inheritance is described as imperishable, undefiled, unfading, and kept in heaven for you. Can you imagine? No inheritance on earth could possible compare. We have hope because we know there is so much more to come.
- We Have a Living Hope Because We are Being Held by God’s Omnipotence! Lastly, we are “being guarded through faith…” This is passive. Meaning, it’s not the quality of your faith that is the determining factor here. We are never saved by the quality of our faith, but the object of our faith- Jesus. Faith is a grace, given to us by God. He is the author and finisher of our faith! Therefore, we have hope because God is sustaining us. My children may at times let go of my hand in the parking lot, but I assure you, I am never letting go. God does not let go.
Therefore, “In this you rejoice!” “Though now for a little while… you have been grieved by various trials,” we rejoice! Despite the trial, we rejoice! Despite the tears, we rejoice! Despite the heartbreak, we rejoice! Despite the shame, we rejoice! Despite any and all circumstances, we rejoice! These trials are “for a little while,” but our living hope is for eternity.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Matthew S. Rickett