Living Loved When Living’s Hard | Day 1
Reading: 1 Peter 1:1-12
“You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith – more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter 1:6-7 (HCSB)
When we are hurt and scared and angry, we like to have something to blame. There’s something that makes us feel better when we have a physical entity we can target our anger towards. Hitler turned Germany against the Jews using this mindset. The US has fallen into this trap, too; especially after Pearl Harbor and 9/11.
After 9 days of raging fire, over two-thirds of Rome sat in ruins. It was rumored that Nero was responsible for the fire. While there is still disagreement as to whether this is true or not, Nero was pretty vocal about wanting a large portion of land to build his ultimate fortress, but his council refused to approve it. Conveniently, the area destroyed by the Great Fire was the perfect size Nero needed, and he promptly built his masterpiece over the ruins.
The idea that their leader had burned their homes for his own pleasure did not sit well with the Romans. They were angry and scared. 10 out of 14 districts in Rome were demolished. Understandably, the Roman people started to turn against Nero. In order to keep the peace, and not lose his power, Nero blamed the fire on the Christians.
It’s no secret that Nero hated Christians. For entertainment, he would feed Christians to lions during gladiator fights. He was also quite the partier, and since Ancient Rome didn’t have electricity, he would douse Christians with oil and burn them alive as human candles.
After becoming the scapegoats for Nero, the Christians residing in the Roman Empire were thrown under attack and persecution for their beliefs. As if living under Nero’s anti-Christianity rule wasn’t hard enough, now they were dealing with threats from their neighbors and fellow citizens.
These are the people Peter is writing to; people who are hurting, who are hiding, who are desperately wondering how to live in a world that outright hates them.
People who are just as human as we are.
We live in a world filled with sin. Unfortunate circumstances and tragedies happen every day. Look around you. Currently, we have a country divided over monuments, the South flooded by a hurricane, and the West scorched by wildfires. And that’s just in the U.S.! Think of the problems happening globally: civil war is tearing nations apart, Middle Eastern women are fighting for rights, and many children need education, not to mention food and water.
This world isn’t pretty. And when we look closer into our own lives, we see the real effects of sin. We’re a mess. Wives and husbands can hardly stand to be in the same room with each other; coworkers fill workplaces with hostility; social media is drenched in arguments and hatred.
How do we as Christians live victoriously in the midst of this sin-cursed world? If we’re meant for a future in heaven with Christ, how do we live in a world that we’re not meant for?
And that is why Peter writes this letter.
We have to live here. We’re called to be Christ’s witnesses in this world and to make disciples for Him (Matthew 28:19-20). We have to live in a way that points to Who He is. We have to live like we are loved by the One Who holds the universe.
To prepare his readers for this convicting challenge, Peter gives us three things we need to keep in the forefront of our minds.
#1 – Our inheritance is found in heaven, not here on Earth (verses 3-4).
When crap happens, we tend to forget Who is really in control. We forget that we are loved beyond all measure by an all-powerful God, a God who planned our futures before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-6).
And when we forget that God is in control, we forget His promises.
Before Christ returned to heaven, He told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would come to them. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would literally enter into the lives of human beings to guide, comfort, and protect us, setting us apart for God until we are face to face with Him for all eternity.
That’s the future we have to look forward to.
#2 – We are guarded and protected by God’s power (verse 5).
In spite of all the hardships we may face in this life, we are completely and irrevocably protected by the power of God, the very power that created the world and raised Christ from the dead. This is something we can rejoice in!
But that doesn’t mean that life will be any easier.
#3 – The trials we face are for our benefit (verses 6-7).
When we choose to trust in God’s love and God’s power, in His unfailing promises, we can trust that He will never lead us through pain that has no purpose. God’s ultimate goal is for us is that we grow to be more like Christ (Romans 8:28-29), and as much as it sucks to say it, we grow the most when we are pushed, when it hurts.
There’s a reason things get harder as we progress. There’s a reason 2+2 eventually turns into 43x + 2(4-23) and writing sentences turns into writing essays: we only get better when we are challenged. Without challenges, without pain, without the uncomfortable situations that life brings, we’d have no reason to better ourselves. But when we trust that God is completely in control, and when we trust that His power is protecting our growth and our future even in the pain, we can have hope. We can rejoice in knowing there’s a point to the trials and there is an end in sight.
A word of warning, though: we might not see the end in this lifetime. The hardships we face, the issues we struggle with, could plague us for the rest of our lives. I know that’s not easy to hear, and it’s not easy to accept. But friends, we can hope in our future after death, our future that brings us face to face with Jesus Christ for all eternity.
I don’t know what struggles you are facing today. I don’t know what doubts are fighting over truth in your mind. But whatever challenges you are fighting through, I want you to know that the things of this world will pass away, but the future Christ promises will never be destroyed. I know that’s hard to hold on to, especially when you feel like the night will never end, but an all-powerful God has His ever-loving arms around you and promises to keep you until you’ve passed through every fiery trial.
Sisters, our job is to prepare ourselves to live and love well while we wait.
✌️ – Tonya
Peter alludes to the method used during his time to purify gold. Using fire reaching close to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, craftsmen would melt gold, which would cause any impurities to rise to the top making it easy for the craftsmen to remove them with a skimmer. Although extreme and dangerous, melting the gold was the only way possible for it to be purified. Why does Peter use this to describe the outcome of our trials? Has there been a time in your life where your circumstances hurt deeply, but you came out of that season better?
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