I can remember my first time as a pastor trying to counsel a couple through some marriage difficulties. I was ill equipped, yet I charged in with great intentions. We spent hours, weeks, and even months trying to work through the details and possible reasons for the deterioration of their relationship. We made some discoveries about why things were the way that they were. We talked a lot about communication and intent. These things are very important in a marriage by the way. It was a challenge and took a lot of work and time. About a year into the process, this young couple decided to call it quits on their marriage. I remember the look that both of them had on their face. They had simply lost all hope that they could make it through their struggles. In my desire to have it all figured out, I missed the fact that the one thing they needed was hope. No matter what the struggle is, everyone is looking for hope to make it through. Hope is the only thing that can help us through the things we are dealing with in our lives right now. The question is, what is our hope? Some might argue that their hope is something different in each situation to provide the motivation to make it through that specific scenario. I would argue that our hope is fixed and is the same no matter what the specific scenario.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8–9)
This series of 1 Peter has challenged us to think about the foundation of our hope. 1 Peter 1:13 literally tells us to “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The basic premise we see in 1 Peter is, when you place your hope (inexpressible joy) in the work of Christ who has brought you to God through the covenant of His blood, knowing that your inheritance is imperishable held in eternity by God, you are able to face any situation with consistency and confidence, glorifying God with every act of obedience in your earthly life.
Whether it is our marriage, our work situation, our family or our community, we all need the hope of Christ and the Gospel at the forefront of our lives. This is the foundation for our ability to be holy (1:13-25), the foundation for our strength together in the face of rejection (2:1-10). This is our hope foundation for functioning within every social relationship here in our earthly existence (2:13-7). It is the only way we will be able to suffer intensely for doing what is right (3:13-4:19). When our joy “is inexpressible and filled with glory”, there is nothing on this earth that can impact us for the worst. Though our righteousness may cost us everything in this world, we know that our hope is placed in the hands of Him who is in heaven.
I have a tendency to make things very complicated. Honestly, every marriage issue, family problem, and depression situation are often very complicated. But I thank God that through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, he has taken the complexity of our sin and struggle and has paid for it all. He has offered us this freedom from our sin induced complexity. He has freely given the grace of God for those who would believe. After several years of working with people in ministry, I have realized that believers simply need to be reminded of their hope in Christ. Only when we are firmly situated upon that foundation of hope can we begin to work through the issues and details that seem to complicate our earthly relationships. For the believer who has tasted the inexpressible joy in Christ, there is no barrier between him/her and doing what is right. This is the standard to which we hold one another accountable. The joy of Christ is not a private thing. As brothers and sisters in Christ we hold one another accountable to the joy we live, no matter what the situation is.
As we complete this study of 1 Peter, we are going to be challenged with the reality of suffering in a believer’s life. Peter’s encouragement is that our joy in Christ transforms earthly suffering into God’s glory. I want to encourage each one of us to bring glory to God in every situation we face this year. We are praying for you, as a staff, here at SCC. May God bless you and continually remind you of your eternal hope every day.