October 1st, 2020
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
–1 Peter 5:6-11
With these comforting words, Peter closes out his letter to a Church under persecution. It is a letter filled with hope and trust in God during challenging circumstances. If anyone ever did, Peter knew the comfort that comes to us when we trust in Christ. Peter was the early leader and the disciple upon whom Christ built the Church. But he was also one who understood the power of forgiveness after having denied Christ. His failure changed Peter’s life. In the end, he became more like Jesus, willing to suffer whatever came his way, having seen Christ do the same first-hand. His suffering transformed Peter into a humble leader; Christ could establish his Church.
In this letter, Peter is writing to a Church filled with suffering people who are disillusioned with working out. Many of them are being persecuted. Many are being thrown out of synagogues, and still, others have been arrested. In tumultuous times, Peter, the rock, reminds his brothers and sisters to submit to suffering by clinging to Christ and his promises. According to many sources, Peter would later be crucified, and he would willingly go to the cross in the strength of Christ, except he asked to be crucified head down as he did not consider himself worthy to die in the same way that his Lord did. Peter has a message for us today.
As we face many challenges in our country and our world, including a worldwide pandemic, a divisive election marked by lying, anger, and fear, and a rising awareness of the racial inequalities that continue to hurt so many among us, we see the expressions of stress all around us. We worry about where we are and seem to have no exact way forward to satisfy all of us. Now, more than ever, we need to remind ourselves that God is in charge. We need never endure anything alone, for God is with us. Peter reminds us that to follow Christ; we must humble ourselves. That means to accept things we disagree with and cannot change. It means having the humility to stop asking, “why me?” but to say instead, “yes, Lord.”
As we do so, Peter reminds us to: “Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Christ never promised us that we would not suffer – in fact, the opposite is true. Christ told the disciples and us in the upper room that “in this world, you WILL have tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” What Jesus promises is twofold. First, he will never leave or forsake us. Jesus Christ is with us in whatever dark hole we find ourselves in. Nothing is too dark for the light of Christ, not even death itself. Second: Christ can do more than be with us; he can and will make things right. When we can’t see the outcome, we must learn to trust our God, who is in charge. All items will work for good because of God’s great Providence. We have read to the end of the Bible, and we know who wins. We know that even when our death comes, early or late, it will bring us into the Presence of God. That is enough for us.
When it comes to your fears, whether they be for the future of our world, our elections, your health, your job, your retirement, or your loved ones, cast all your anxieties on Christ Jesus, for he cares so much for you. He is with you and will be with you. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
I’ll see you in Church,