Adversity is as normal to life as the air we breathe.
We all experience hard times, times when it seems like God is a million miles away. Broken relationships, lost jobs, and financial strain are all a part of living in a world filled with sin. However, when suffering comes in the midst of our faith or is even because of our faith, it can leave us bitter, aimless, hopeless, resentful of others, and angry at God.
I can vividly recall a season in my life where I really felt this. During college I waited tables at a local restaurant. I was the only professing Christian on the wait staff and I felt so isolated. And there were nicknames like Blackwell-Bible-beater, holy roller, etc. But it wasn’t the name calling that got to me as much as the cold shoulders.
One night the whole wait staff was invited to one guy’s house for an after-work party, when I showed up and knocked on the door, the host opened it up, saw it was me and simply said, “You can’t come in.” I saw the whole staff in there, having a good time, and the door was literally slammed in my face. Now, I know that not getting to go into a party is not severe persecution or suffering, but it was real, painful, it made work really awkward, and I felt completely alone.
So I came through that season and am still following Christ to this day, and I’m not the only one to walk through something like that, but the question is, “How?” How, as followers of Christ, can we deal with the adversity and suffering that is sure to come in this life? How does following Jesus change the way we see our pain and trials?
To answer that question is why the Apostle Peter wrote the letter we call “1 Peter.” It is a letter written to Christ followers who are learning to bear up under unjust suffering while striving to continue to live well. It is a letter calling us to anchor our hope in Christ, to endure unjust hostility, to trust in God’s plan, and to make every effort to live out the mission that God has called us to.
Peter lived in close proximity to Jesus Christ for more than three years. He walked with Him, heard every sermon, and observed Him live a holy life in a hostile world. So this letter is filled with encouragement for believers to live like Christ, to look to Christ, to hope in Christ.
Right from the opening verse of the letter, we’re reminded of our hope in God in the midst of suffering.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. (1 Peter 1:1-2 ESV)
From the outset we see the powerful, trinitarian God at work.
God knows you are suffering (“according to the foreknowledge of God”).
God is working to bring about His glory in your life (“in the sanctification of the Spirit”).
God has sacrificed to save you (“Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood”).
In your trial, in your suffering, in your strain, God knows, God works, God saves.
As we study this book together, my hope is that we will learn to live like Christ, not shrinking back when trials come but pressing on in love and in honoring the Lord.
May grace and peace be multiplied to you!