“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 – 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 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 your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and 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 goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1Peter 1:3-9
Years ago, I was prompted by God to memorize this passage. I am so grateful that He would do so because these have been very present words of life to me ever since, perpetually guiding me to a healthy perspective of life as it unfolds. Because He planted His Word in my heart, I cannot drift very far from it. Though my own sinful mind is woefully prone to the shortsighted view of circumstances, truth calls me back to the facts as declared by God again and again: I have a living hope because of Jesus Christ and the Father’s mercy; I have an imperishable inheritance kept in heaven for me; salvation is coming and in the meantime I am shielded by God’s power. This is truth. My faith is in the One Who is my Hope and I praise Him.
I share this passage that has been such consistent encouragement to me so that others, too, will be encouraged. If you have been born again by His mercy, you have a living hope. If you have not been born again, His mercy stands to receive you if you turn to Him. With a living hope and the shield of His power, you can rejoice though now for a little while you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. Living hope gives eyes to see and a mind to understand that it is truly only for a little while and that it is the golden opportunity for your faith to be proved genuine – faith that is of priceless value. Faith proved genuine in trials results in praise, glory and honor when Jesus is revealed for who He is in you, to you and through you.
Living hope that rejoices in spite of trials is fueled by love for Him. He is what we hope for. The salvation He holds for His own is eternity with Him. He did not promise wealth, riches or pleasure as the world knows them. Those are temporal, uncertain and diminishing. He promised the wealth, riches and pleasure of His Presence: perpetually beholding Him, worshipping Him, knowing Him more and more, hearing His voice. These do not perish, spoil or fade. The Psalmist wrote the cry of all who have a living hope: “My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere.” (Psalm 84:2, 10) Oh, the inexpressible and glorious joy!
It is only when one loves something or someone else above Him that trials become a threat. In this position, trials usually prove faith to be a sham because it is exposed as a presumption that God would keep bad things from happening. False hope is in the continued increase of “good for me”, not in eternity with Him.
These are days of trial for many. Economic difficulties, health threats, job uncertainty, international strife – it’s pretty bleak out there. If it hasn’t come to your house, just the treat of it sends out clammy little tendrils of fear and worry to waft through your head and grip your heart. What will be your perspective? Will you fix your eyes on the trials so that they fill your whole view, overwhelming everything? Or will you give praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for His great mercy that has given you new birth into a living hope? Will you acknowledge that these trials are only for a little while and that they are the opportunity for praise, glory and honor to rise to Jesus as your faith is proved genuine? We may not see Him now, but we will. That is our living hope: He has risen from the dead and we will be with Him for eternity. These days of trial are only a moment in comparison to that. Let your faith – your trust in Him that governs all your actions – shine brightly to His glory. With widespread trial, let there be widespread praise, glory and honor as Jesus Christ is revealed.