There are many things we want in abundance. Choices. Opportunities. Results.
But what the first-century church had in abundance was trials. The apostle Peter said they were “in heaviness through manifold temptations” (1 Peter 1:6). They had trouble coming at them from every angle.
The modern American church is not used to this. Sure, we’ve had trouble in the past. But we’re in a season right now when trouble is coming at us from every side.
There’s a worldwide pandemic that has drastically altered our ministry schedules and has repeatedly—almost weekly—forced us to adapt. There is civil unrest. There is economic upheaval, including many being laid off from their jobs. There is fear and concern about education options for this school year. And all this is on top of the personal trials many are already going through.
Sometimes it all begins to play on people’s minds. Sometimes even for pastors it’s hard to plan for ministry. Sometimes any of us can wonder if pressing forward for Christ during such seasons is worth the effort.
But isn’t where we find ourselves now the way Jesus described the Christian life would be? Too often, we’re hoping for a walk through the park instead of committing to press toward the mark. God never promised that the Christian life or spiritual leadership would be a routine, easy path every day.Too often, we’re hoping for a walk through the park instead of committing to press toward the mark. Click To Tweet
What God does offer, however, is a resource the world knows nothing of—Christian hope. While many Christians are generally aware of and perhaps even talk about the reality of hope, many struggle to hold onto it or live in light of it.
So how do we reach out and grasp this hope? How does it become something so real that it characterizes our lives? How do you live with this hope when you are in a season of heaviness through manifold temptations? First Peter 1:13–16 gives us at least three answers:
Fasten Your Mind on Truth
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober…—1 Peter 1:13
The word gird means “to gather up.” This is a time for serious, spiritual thinking. Pull your thoughts together to the dominant truths of God.
This is not a time for imagining life outside of God’s revealed will to you. It’s not a time to think unscriptural, wandering thoughts that question God’s goodness or fantasize an easier path. This is the time to gird up our minds and maintain a biblical thought process.
If our minds are not saturated with God’s Word and filled with gospel truth, we will be overcome with fear or frustration.If our minds are not saturated with God’s Word and filled with gospel truth, we will be overcome with fear or frustration. Click To Tweet
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;—2 Corinthians 10:5
Fix Your Gaze on Christ’s Coming
…and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;—1 Peter 1:13
The eminent return of Christ is the blessed hope of every child of God.
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;—Titus 2:13
We see the world in turmoil, but God sees His plan unfolding. And in the midst of all the turmoil, God tells us to look for His coming—to fix our gaze on the heavens and the future glory in Christ.We see the world in turmoil, but God sees His plan unfolding. Click To Tweet
Missionary Hudson Taylor described the importance of this truth to our work for Christ:
You will often read in missionary reports that the people have turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, but not in one out of ten do you hear anything about their waiting for His Son from heaven (1 Thessalonians 1:9). I believe that the ignorance of the native Christians generally of the fact that Christ is coming again…is one reason for the selfishness and worldliness to be found…. Well do I remember the effect, when God was pleased to open my own heart to this great truth that the Lord Jesus was coming again, and that He might come at any time…. I do not know of any truth that has been a greater blessing to me through life than this.1
Remembering Christ’s coming frees us from the belief that the trials of this world will swallow up our future. Even if our current difficulties were to last for a lifetime, they are only temporary. When our gaze is fixed on Christ’s future coming, our hope is anchored to the most glorious promises of all.
Fashion Your Life after God
As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.—1 Peter 1:14–16
Christian hope is seen in Christian living. When this world is all there is, living by our “former lusts,” or sin nature, makes sense…and holy living seems pointless. But when we remember that we have been freed from sin and called by a holy God, everything changes.Christian hope is seen in Christian living. Click To Tweet
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.—Galatians 2:20
We are not to continue to conform our life to the old sinful life of the old nature, but we are to, through the power of the Holy Spirit, conform our life to our holy God.
What Hope Looks Like
Christian hope isn’t an unwillingness to face reality. It isn’t someone who is optimistic because his head is in the clouds.
Christian hope is experienced in—perhaps even strengthened by—times of “heaviness through manifold temptations.” We can live with this hope when we are facing trouble from every side.
But experiencing the help of this hope does require some decisions on our part.
- Fasten your mind on truth.
- Fix your gaze on Christ’s coming.
- Fashion your life after God.
Are you experiencing the hope God gives? If not, read 1 Peter 1. Focus your mind on truth, your gaze on Christ, and your obedience on God’s Word.
1 Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission: The Growth of a Work of God (London: Morgan & Scott, 1918), 407–408.