Peter wrote to churches faced with growing persecution. This time of evil darkness had begun and was growing. Followers of Jesus throughout the world were already suffering because of their faith. Peter warned them that this persecution was intensifying. Yet despite these impending hardships and mounting threats, Peter gave them some of the greatest words of hopeful praise ever written:
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 (1 Peter 1:3-9).
How could Peter express such joyful hope in the face of mounting persecution — persecution that would ultimately take his life?
James Nored reminds us of the basis of our living hope in today's video. This hope can be alive in us even in the middle of our pandemic sufferings and sorrows. The cold and chaotic harshness of winter that many of us have recently experienced can't snuff out this living hope:
Hope that is not shared with others in testimony and with God in praise quickly grows dim. Despite the opposition and persecution that these early believers faced, Peter reminded them to be ready to share their reason for hope:
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened." But in your hearts, revere Christ as Lord. 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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander (1 Peter 3:13-16).
What is the basis for your hope for the future?
How does Jesus give us hope in the face of life's darkest times?
Let's share our hope! We can't think of a more important commitment for us as believers in our uncertain times. And, let's share that hope with gentleness and respect as we rejoice in Jesus, our living hope!