• The Explore the Bible lesson for Sept. 4 focuses on 1 Peter 1:3-9.
Hope Discovered (1 Peter 1:3-4)
If it were not for hope, no one would have any ultimate reason for living. Nothing connects us more to our faith history than the hope we have in common with all those who first knew Jesus in the flesh. There is nothing that will destroy a person’s ability to live, much less live meaningfully, more than if they conclude there is no hope beyond this life.
Peter seemed to have an intuitive, deeply spiritual sense, of this truth. He came to this faith after walking with Jesus, observing his miracles and witnessing his resurrection. Beyond that, having failed Jesus so miserably, he found personal hope in the forgiveness Jesus extended to him, even after he betrayed Jesus so badly.
So, Peter was not reporting of a hope someone had taught him or about which he had read or heard. Peter, when he spoke of hope, was reporting his own personal encounter with the living Christ. There is no true hope apart from such an encounter, even for those of us today who have never seen the physical Jesus. Our spiritual encounter with the risen Lord is the basis of our hope.
Again, hope for Peter was not something he found after deducing certain facts. Peter’s hope was a gift, from God through Christ to a broken and lost soul. So is our hope today.
Hope Assured (1 Peter 1:5)
As we enter yet another presidential election season, it’s easy to be distracted into believing our hope is based in who has the political power in our day and time. This betrays our lack of eternal vision, our inability to keep focused on the bigger picture of what God is accomplishing in history.
We are not electing a national pastor or national spiritual leader, no matter what anyone promises. We should be good citizens and vote our conscience. Our hope, our eternal hope, is based on the promise of God, witnessed in the birth, death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
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The earliest Christians had no political hope and yet were able to participate with God in starting a movement that has outlived every conceivable kind of political power and evil since then. The reason is because they trusted the mercy and eternal promise of God. The same God who saved God’s people in the past is still saving today and will be forever, no matter who holds a temporary political office.
By faith and faith alone, we trust that the God who has revealed God’s eternal saving power in the past will also reveal it in the future. God has never broken God’s promise to redeem! God’s promises are not based on our ability to understand them or even believe them. God’s love is greater than our doubts.
Hope Celebrated (1 Peter 1:6-9)
In the meantime, we live in a day of suffering and even persecution. We live with the unresolved mystery of how a loving God could allow suffering and pain. Living with the mystery demands a faith that takes the longer view of things, sees beyond the moment to the good that will come.
As parents and grandparents, it is so difficult to allow our children and grandchildren to suffer. Often, they must endure pain that we have no power to alleviate. We can only stand with them, pray for them, love them and hold them. We want and need them to know that, no matter what, our faithfulness to love them will never end—no matter what they endure.
So it is with God. For reasons that are only God’s to know, we often are allowed to suffer. What we do know and can trust is that God is with us in the suffering—as seen in the death of Christ—and that we will not be abandoned to evil’s final intentions. The God who has been with us will continue to be with us and, in the end, our faith will be rewarded with a hope that is realized.
We can endure the moment because we know that, in the end, God and God’s redeeming power will have the final say in our lives and in our eternities. This is not something that makes sense to those without faith. To those with faith, it is a hope that is as sure as the air we breathe.
Glen Schmucker is a hospice and pediatric hospital chaplain in Fort Worth.