wednesday, december 20 - Hope in Jesus helps us endure hardship.

1 Peter 1:6–7 (ESV) (6) In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, (7) so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

If we read through the whole letter of 1 Peter, we would discover people experiencing much hardship. We would discover Christian slaves being treated unfairly by their masters, even though they had done no wrong (2:18-20). Christian wives were being mistreated by their unbelieving husbands (3:1-6). Many of the believers had former friends who had abandoned them and who were now slandering them (2:12; 3:16, 17; 4:4, 13-14, 16). Some were being threatened and it’s likely that some even were facing martyrdom (3:14; 4:12). Notice that Peter says these hardships cause them to grieve. That is a word filled with emotion and depth of pain. It's a word we usually use when a death has occurred. Men and women, these people were hurting.

Today I know many of us are grieving. Many of us are feeling downtrodden and discouraged. We can never seem to get ahead financially. Our marriages are not what we hoped. Our adult children have gone astray. As we try to engage people in reasonable conversation about what is happening in our culture, we are accused of espousing hate speech. The values our country used to accept have been discarded and society, under the lie of being progressive, has regressed deeper into sin. Perhaps it is just me, but as a Christian, I am feeling more and more pushed to the side and viewed as a problem by our society. Altogether the weight of this feels overwhelming. And as a result, our hope in God’s promised future is taking a big hit.

Into this pain, God tells us that our faith in Him and His Word will demonstrate that our hope is genuine. Why? Because it is grounded firmly in the future God has promised. Yes, we will experience many hardships. Yes, they hurt. No, they are not going away anytime soon. But remember when you came to Christ and the new life you gained. Remember the immense joy you felt. Don’t forget that before the pain you loved and trusted Jesus. Now is the time to embrace what you learned in the light. Now is not the time to abandon your love and trust in Him. Look to His coming as you love Him and trust Him today. Those actions are demonstrations of faith. And in some miraculous way, we will experience joy.

Christmas is a joy-filled season. If you are going through some hardships during the holiday, don’t lose hope. They are only “for a little while” but your faith in Christ, more precious than gold, will endure and empower you until the day Christ returns.