A View From the Top

Guest post by Karen Wilson

The first week we were self isolating was very disorienting for me. I love order. I love routine and rhythm. So needless to say my routine and rhythm were disrupted. Because I didn’t know what to do I froze (which can be my usual M.O.) and did nothing. This unexpected, uncontrollable, unwanted trial, just like many trials and hardships we face, had momentarily rattled me and many others. It’s like standing at the top of a very high building. At first you may feel unstable, a little dizzy and off balance. But once you stabilize you can delight in the view.

I am thankful that during this time I find myself having just completed a 5-week study in the book of 1st Peter. If you know anything about this letter, Peter is addressing believers, scattered in different places, who are themselves experiencing trials and hardships. And into this scenario a letter arrives. And into our scenario this letter has arrived to stabilize us if we’ll allow it. Peter writes,

“... even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
1 Peter 1:6-7

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.” 
1 Peter 4:12

So I see in these verses that trials and hardships will come (they’re not a strange thing happening); they are of different kinds (various); they are necessary (we’d be worse off without them); they last a little while (even when they last too long for our liking); we will be distressed (grieved) by them (even when we handle them well); and they are for the proving of our faith.

But in the midst of these verses regarding their suffering, Peter has reminded these believers and is reminding us of God’s grace toward us in salvation. He takes them to the top of the building to look at the view.

He reminds them and us that we are chosen (1:1); we have been born again to a living hope (1:3); we have an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for us (1:4); we are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1:5); we were redeemed from our futile way of life with the blood of Christ (1:18-19); we are living stones, being built up as a spiritual house, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (2:5); we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession called out of darkness into His marvelous light (2:9); we are the people of God and have received mercy (2:10); Jesus bore our sins in His body so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (2:24).

And it is from this vantage point, this orientation that Peter gives the church instructions on how to endure and persevere through trials and hardships. He tells them to prepare their minds for action (1:13), or in other words, to get rid of sloppy thinking and consciously decide what to set your mind on. He urges them to fix your hope completely on the grace to come (1:13), to be obedient children (1:14), to be holy in all your behavior (1:15), and to long for the pure milk of the Word so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation (2:2).

Peter also appeals to their relational health, exhorting them to be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, humble in spirit (3:8); to turn away from evil and do good (3:11); to sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts (3:15), keeping fervent in your love for one another (4:8), and to keep on rejoicing (4:13).

Our current trial, our hardship is “…producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,” according to 2 Corinthians 4:17. John Piper wrote in a recent article that I read, “God reigns so supremely on behalf of His elect that everything that faces us in a lifetime of obedience and ministry will be subdued by the mighty hand of God and made the servant of our holiness and our everlasting joy in God.”

Even as I write this I am aware many are experiencing various trials that have nothing to do with the virus. Life is still going on. We are contending with frustration, uncertainty, confusion, questions, fear and maybe even anger in relation to many other circumstances. But these too are “made the servant of our holiness and our everlasting joy in God.” Through our various trials, our faith is being proven genuine and impurities, false hopes and distractions are being exposed and burned off.

May our grip on the things of this world be loosened and our grip on things eternal be tightened. May we be oriented back to truth. May we be stabilized by our view from the top - from God’s perspective). May we live in our current trials and all the others to come in a way that results in the praise, honor and glory of God (as Peter instructs us to do), rejoicing greatly in all God has done for us in Christ, even as we grieve and lament. May we endure in a way that proclaims His excellencies!

Let’s not plod through, continue in instability, or ignore the trouble and do nothing. Let’s keep pressing on, firm in His grace, walking in holiness and hope.

“Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anixiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:6-7

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