It is easy to let fear take hold right now. Every newscast is filled with reopening strategies on the one hand but tales of gloom where other countries have relapses with increased social interaction. Worry rears its ugly head way more than I like. I want to trust God but I get concerned with the increasing havoc this deadly virus creates and that, at times, overwhelms me.
Commercials abound that state we are all in this together and we will get through these challenging times. TV presentations of encouragement are supposed to help. In many ways they do not. I feel even more isolated as I see what I am missing. The tears easily flow when once again I am listening to my daughter sing in her online church service rather than be with her or with the fellowship of my local congregation. My few personal interactions with my children have been speaking to them from across the yard. It is difficult not to feel discouraged. I want my life back but I don’t see that happening in the foreseeable future.
When I am at a loss as to what to do I find encouragement in God’s Word. The Apostle Peter is definitely a messenger of hope. Living at a time in history where Christianity is frowned upon and its followers persecuted, Peter continues to be a shining light of the hope we have in salvation through Jesus Christ.
One of my favourite verses of Peter’s writings is the following:
“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.” (1 Peter 1:3-4 NIV)
Basically, this verse talks about there being more than this life. Floods, famine, disease, war, are things of this world and they will pass. We believers know that there is more than what is going on here and now. Those who believe that Jesus rose from the dead and provides salvation for our sins have not just hope, but a living hope that our future in Christ will be better as we share an eternity in heaven with Him.
We get an inheritance that nothing in this world can touch. It cannot rot away or disappear in any fashion. We have the sure and certain promise of salvation in Christ when we believe in Him as Lord and Saviour.
Now, it is easy to say that I get that – yes, I have the hope of being in heaven one day. But what does that do for the here and now when the world is turned upside down by a virus? How does this hope impact my life when my retirement funds dwindle or bills are challenging to pay due to job loss or poor health?
Peter originally wrote these verses to a persecuted Church. Life was not easy for any Christian at that time. Gatherings often had to be in secret and many believers had to be in hiding to avoid persecution. Others travelled far away to escape from the mistreatment believers in Jesus experienced. Like today, the world was a mess and encouragement was needed.
The world uses the word “hope” very tritely. “I hope it will be sunny today” or “I hope I will get the new job”. It is more a sign of optimism than surety. Scripture presents hope in a different light – it is a firm conviction that things will come to pass. We can hope because we know that God keeps His promises.
The hope we have isn’t stagnant, it is a living hope. This hope grows and builds as we anticipate all that God will do for us. He has an amazing track record of how He has cared for His people throughout history. That is not going to change. He holds us in the palm of His hand and will never let us go. No battles or disease are going to separate us from His great love.
Yes, the world looks gloomy at the moment. If I focus on all that I don’t have right now, I am easily discouraged. Instead, Scripture points us to Christ, our living hope. No matter what this world throws at us, we are never out of God’s reach or without the salvation He promised us through Christ Jesus if we only believe. It doesn’t you mean you won’t be upset or have moments of fear, but these times will be easier as you tap into the strength God alone provides.
Take heart. This living hope is meant to assure you in these challenging times. The early Church survived because they clung to the imperishable hope that is in Christ. Hold on to this anchor. You will not sink. God is there to draw you into the lifeboat.