That's the Book: 1st Peter
When I was pregnant with my first daughter my mama gave me some great advice about labor and delivery. She said not to get wrapped up in other people’s horror stories and to face my labor remembering everyone is different. She said to try and remember the pain had a purpose and wouldn't last forever. She was right. The perspective helped. Rather than focusing on what was difficult I tried to remind myself the labor was bringing great joy.
Pain is always easier to bear when we know the outcome is a good one. Peter, the author of this little book knew something about enduring pain and then seeing the joy afterwards. He was present during Jesus' ministry and death and was one of the first to see the truth of the empty tomb. So the book of 1st Peter gives the same advice as my mama. Know your suffering is not permanent. Joy comes. It’s for great purpose.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1st Peter 1: 3-9
That was a long verse wasn't it.
I catch myself skipping over large quotes or excepts of Bible in other people's writing. I have to remind myself to slow down and read the words and absorb the truth of what God is saying. I think the devil loves it when we skip the scripture.
My words don't matter.
So go ahead and go back and read (or reread) that section of 1st Peter. It really sums up the whole book. Suffering causes you to grow, it burns out what is false, it makes the most important things clear, and suffering well draws people in.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 9 6-11
We don’t face much persecution here although our family around the world certainly does. And hardships certainly hit everyone. Cancer. Divorce. Financial loss. But what 1 Peter says is that God will carry us through those hardships. That these sufferings strip away what is lesser and reveals what is most important; Eternity. Salvation. Heaven.
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1st Peter 2: 11-12
Have you ever been around someone who was over reacting to a minor inconvenience? It’s awkward and unpleasant. Usually makes me wonder what happened in their past to trigger a harsh response.
But have you ever been around someone with a peace and joy in the middle of difficult situations?
It draws me in.
I want to know where their strength comes from.
Where their resiliency is stored.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect... 1st Peter 3: 15b
Do you see what Peter is saying? Your reaction to what hardship shows up has an eternal impact on you and those around you. Your pain is not wasted. It's not pointless. The joy is coming.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1st Peter 4:12-13
And this is the bit of the story Peter is preaching. Heaven is a guarantee. Bring people with you. Suffer well.
I was struggling with the book of 1st Peter. I usually try to read it myself first and reflect, pray, think and write. Nuthin. So I cheated and watched The Bible Project's walk through. Then I started again. Totally helped. May I recommend you watch these?
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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