My heart was breaking as I sat with this young couple. When we met a few months before, they were both full of hope for their future. But now, they are having increasing conflict and hurtful exchanges. The husband is isolated and angry. The wife is lonely and withdrawing from the marriage. How could this couple move so quickly from a place of great hope to this place of conflict and despair?
Maybe you can relate to this couple. The hope and optimism you once had for your marriage has faded into “reality”. And whether you are just getting started in marriage or been together for decades, we all face seasons where things are hard. How can you and I truly persevere through those stormy seasons in our marriage? And is there something better than just “enduring them” or “gritting our teeth” through them?
The book of 1 Peter has real, practical encouragement for us in these seasons. This book was written to those who were in a time of suffering as Christians. Here are the verses:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! 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, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 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. 8 Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9
God, through Peter, wants to infuse us with His hope. And he does that by calling us to focus in three directions....
First – Look Back
The first direction the Lord wants us to look is back. In verse 3, Peter says, “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 my life as a Christ-follower, God has done many incredible things, including the healing and reconciliation of my marriage after my adultery. But the greatest thing He has done in my life, or in the life of any Christ-follower, is causing me to be born again! I came from death to life – born again to a living hope!
Take a minute or two to think back and ponder the incredible things He has done in your life. Seriously, I hope you can think back and clearly see the supernatural places in your life story where God has left His unmistakable fingerprint. God has done supernatural things in your life and mine as a testimony to His grace and power. But we too quickly forget these things. That is why, in so many places in the Word of God we are exhorted to remember. And that is what Peter is reminding us of in this passage: To let God's great faithfulness and grace in your past help “stabilize” you and me in this current season of suffering. Let the memory of God's goodness and grace renew our minds with confidence in Him despite our present situation.
Second - Look Forward
Then in verse 4 and 5, Peter challenges us to look forward. He speaks of an “inheritance that is...kept in heaven for you”. An inheritance is something we receive at a future date. But unlike an earthly inheritance, God's inheritance for us as Christ-followers is guaranteed. That inheritance is described as “undefiled, imperishable, and unfading”. That's an awesome inheritance! In verse 5, we are also told that this awesome inheritance is “guarded” by God's power. Our salvation and inheritance as Christ-followers are secure in God's hand.
So just as the Lord wanted us to look back and see His past faithfulness, He also encourages us to look forward to what He has promised us. Knowing what God has promised helps us to get our attention off our present situation and on God's sure and secure promises. One Pastor I know often reminds folks that there are about 7,000 promises in God's Word. And like the inheritance He has promised us in these verses in 1 Peter, we can take hold of any of those promises and hold onto them with confidence in seasons where we are suffering.
Third - Look Up
Third, Peter encourages us to “look up”. In verse 6, he shares, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials...” Did you catch those words – rejoice, grieved, trials. How can rejoicing go along with grief in the midst of our trials? Is that even possible? I don't know about you, but I didn't wake up this morning asking the Lord to bring trials and grief that would result in me rejoicing!
But then, in verse 7, we see the reason we can choose to rejoice: “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”. God is not allowing some “random thing” to happen in my life. But rather, He is working a trial in my life – a time of suffering – so that He can do His work of refining me – the “testing by fire”. And so that He can receive praise and honor and glory as I cooperate with Him in this suffering.
But let me be honest - God's refining is hard, and most of the time I just want “out”! I cry “Deliver me from this, Lord!” When I find myself wanting out of the fire, I must remember what Warren Wiersbe says about these trials: “When God permits His children to go through the furnace, He keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat. If we rebel, He may have to reset the clock; but if we submit, He will not permit us to suffer one minute too long. The important thing is that we learn the lesson He wants to teach us and that we bring glory to Him alone.”
So in the midst of our suffering and trial, the Lord asks us to look up – and remember that His hand is holding us during every aspect of this suffering – if only I will trust Him to walk with me through it.
Finally: Center on Jesus
Finally, Peter leaves us with verses 8 and 9: Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. As we get our eyes off of our circumstances, we see that Jesus, our Savior, is right there with us.
I can't express it any better than what Warren Wiersbe has already shared on this:
REJOICE: You may not be able to rejoice over the circumstances, but you can rejoice in them by centering your heart and mind on Jesus Christ. Each experience of trial helps us learn something new and wonderful about our Savior. Abraham discovered new truths about the Lord on the mount where he offered his son (Gen. 22). The three Hebrew children discovered His nearness when they went through the fiery furnace (Dan. 3). Paul learned the sufficiency of His grace when he suffered with a thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12).
TRUST: Faith means surrendering all to God and obeying His Word in spite of circumstances and consequences. Love and faith go together: when you love someone, you trust him. And faith and love together help to strengthen hope; for where you find faith and love, you will find confidence for the future.
LOVE: When you find yourself in some trial, and you hurt, immediately lift your heart to Christ in true love and worship. Why? Because this will take the poison out of the experience and replace it with healing medicine. Satan wants to use life’s trials to bring out the worst in us, but God wants to bring out the best in us. If we love ourselves more than we love Christ, then we will not experience any of the glory now. The fire will burn us, not purify us.
We all need hope during difficult seasons of our lives and marriages. Please allow God to speak His hope to you through His Words in 1 Peter. God has used those few verses in my own life time after time and He can do the same for you!
PRAYER: Lord, help me today to persevere with joy, trust, and love for You in this time of trial and suffering. I know You care deeply for me and are refining and pruning me for Your purposes and glory. In the Name of Jesus!
Warren Wiersbe, Be Commentary on 1 Peter.
Paul David Tripp, Teaching on 1 Peter
Glen Solberg is a man who is passionate about marriage - his own and the marriages of those around him! He and his wife, Shawn, have been married since 1992 and have been investing in the marriages of others full-time since 2003. You can find out more by going to the About Page.
Written by Glen Solberg, Marriage Revolution, 2018. All Rights Reserved.