The sun is brilliant this morning, the invigorating, 28° air fresh with the promise of spring. Winter is not over yet, but I feel it coming. Even if today were snowy and blustery, I still know that the Vernal Equinox listed on my calendar will come, like it has every year in history. Hardships in life may feel like a never-ending winter. Yet we can take heart, knowing that God’s promises for those who suffer are just as sure as the spring equinox.
More Truths from 1 Peter
When we’re in the midst of suffering, how do we find strength to keep going? Is there any hope when we’re suffering? It is easy to give up in despair. We could give up on God when we don’t feel him with us. If we focus on the truths beyond the reality of the pain we’re experiencing, there is hope. Our hope is in the promises of a faithful God.
Jesus suffered pain far more extreme than most of us ever will. How did he endure? Scripture says, “for the joy set before him he endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2). Likewise, we can endure our trials by setting our eyes on the promises God has given us.
Last month I wrote about Finding God’s Purposes in Suffering. Let’s continue exploring truths from 1 Peter, this time focusing on God’s promises for those who suffer.
Whatever the nature of our suffering, may we find courage and strength in these three, wonderful promises.
We Are Chosen
Peter states this first truth in his greeting:
To God’s elect…who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.1 Peter 1:1-2, NIV
We were CHOSEN!!! He chose us!
Chosen…through the sanctifying work of the Spirit… for obedience.
We were not saved to feel good, to have a better life, or merely to escape punishment for our sins. God wants to sanctify us and make us holy, set apart for only Him. Jesus told his disciples, “As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world” (John 15:19).
The Apostle Paul said that we are not our own, we were bought with a price, so we are called to honor God with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
We have been chosen for obedience. We were not set free from sin to live as we choose. We were saved for obedience to Jesus Christ our Lord, whose death on the cross gives him the right to demand obedience.
Our obedience brings Him glory. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).
We were chosen.
Maybe we were chosen to walk a path of suffering so the world can witness our declarations of praise to God arising in the midst of pain.
Being chosen may not seem like a favorable position if it involves suffering. And yet, we who are chosen possess a “living hope” that far outweighs our current troubles.
We Have a Living Hope
What is this “living hope”?
In [God’s] 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—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.1 Peter 1:3-5, NIV
This inheritance is both future and ours to experience now. For now, we have been given “glorious riches of…Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). We await the future “glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
In the meantime, God has given us hope. Those who trust Jesus already HAVE these sure promises. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19a).
Ours is a LIVING hope. Not merely a wish or a longing, this hope will be fulfilled because it is based on the power of the One who raised Jesus from the dead.
When life doesn’t turn out how we imagined, when gifts we assumed were ours are torn away, when unexpected pain seems more than we can bear, our spiritual reality hasn’t changed. God has not retracted his promises. Nothing eternal has vanished. Because our inheritance in Christ still stands, our hope remains.
With this inheritance, this living hope, we can confidently anticipate the strength that will come out of our suffering.
We Will Be Made Strong
What a promise!
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.1 Peter 5:10, NIV
This promise gives me courage. During times of extreme pressure throughout my life, I have come to realize I can endure ANYTHING for a time. Stress feels suffocating if there is no end in sight. But if I know it will be over in three weeks, or ten months, or two years, I can handle it because there is a goal, an end that promises relief.
While much of our suffering is unpredictable, we still have the promise that God will restore us. No matter how severe our suffering, God has not left us to figure it out on our own, or to wallow in our weakness and pain forever. He promises strength.
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
Counter to our ideas and expectations about strength, it might be God’s power—not our own—that is revealed in us. When the Apostle Paul begged for his “thorn in the flesh” to be taken away, the Lord replied, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:8).
Right now we might feel weak. We might feel like we’re drowning, or starving, or shriveling up in despair. But our strength is in God, not ourselves. It is there even when we don’t feel it. He WILL make us STRONG!
Even though we may suffer much in this world, we can know this: God has chosen us, He has given us a living hope and an inheritance, and in the end, He will make us strong. I hope these promises encourage you as much as they have me.
“The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).