Tuesday, April 15, 2014

In the Midst

Perusing through the headlines released by news outlets all over the world at 1stheadlines.com and one can come across many news headlines that can be quite overwhelming:

  • "Obama has Proposed 442 Tax Hikes Since Taking Office...."
  • "Russian Fighter Jet Buzzes Navy Warship..."
  • "At least 15 dead, 500 injured in Chile port city fires"
  • "Police Release Chilling Details on High School Stabbing"
  • "Hunger in the Land of Plenty"
  • "Gunman kills 3 at Jewish centers outside Kansas City"
And this is just a small sample. Hundreds of thousands of news stories are released everyday to millions of news feeds updating continually on millions of smart phones every where. And it's not just news stories that seem to overwhelm. People all over the earth are experiencing social, emotional, relational, economical, and spiritual hardship. With all these things going on in the world, it wouldn't be surprising to become overwhelmed with the feeling that everything is slowly but surely crumbling down.  This leads to the ultimate question. In the midst of it all, what do we have to help us hold on?

The Apostle Peter gives us the answer in 1 Peter.  He writes in 1 Peter 1 verse 3b, "According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." In this letter Peter is writing to a host of believers dispersed throughout the region of modern-day Turkey, to encourage them through their circumstances. These weren't just overwhelming feelings derived from the morning newspaper after is was thrown upon their front door step. These believers were located in regions where they were experiencing real persecution, tribulation and trials. Peter, being led by the Holy Spirit, took the opportunity to encourage them in the midst of their trials. Peter encourages them by revealing to them an important truth that produces an important result. Through God's great mercy, and the work of Jesus Christ, there is a hope that they can intimately know, that is alive and not dead. In the midst of what they are experiencing, there is a hope that they can hold onto.

Here are some of the reasons given by Peter in his letter:

  • In the midst of it all, know what God keeps for you. No matter what circumstances you face, know that what Christ did for you, God keeps for you, and nothing can take it from you (1 Peter 1:3,4).  You can be encouraged in the midst, because the gift given to you, through God's abounding love and through the resurrection of his Son, is kept for you. God, the omnipotent one, is continually holding onto the eternal life paid for us by His son. There is not one trial that can take that away.
  • In the midst of it all, know that you can rejoice. God, in his infinite wisdom, has a purpose for the struggle. We can rejoice because the trials we face have a positive impact on our faith. It tests our faith, it purifies our faith and it results in praise. Our perspective can change when we are in the midst of all that surrounds us.
  • In the midst of it all, know that what the angels long to look into, we get to experience. 1 Peter 1:12 says "even angels long to look into these things." The Greek word translated "to look into," reflects the deep desire of the angels to see for themselves what we get to experience.  And what we get to experience is salvation for our souls and eternity in the presence of the Author of Life.

So no matter how heavy the weight of the world and the circumstances of our lives is, be encouraged because there is hope through what Christ did for us in the midst of our greatest trials. All glory goes to God!