In our text today the apostle Peter is writing to believers “scattered throughout” the region of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) who were “distressed by various trials.” These trials stemmed from persecution they experienced for their faith in Christ. But persecution is never an isolated experience. This also resulted in social ostracizing, economic strain, and fear of what the future had in store. Does that happen to sound familiar?
How easy it would have been for them to succumb to self-pity or look for a hole to crawl into and lick their wounds. But Peter would have none of that for them. Rather, he calls them to conduct themselves in hardship in view of their belonging to Christ, with a faith that can withstand the testing of fire and that will result in glory and honor (Verses 7-8).
The spread of the coronavirus in our county, our state, and our country, has been more than a disruption to the daily routine of our lives. Not even with 9/11 have I seen this level of fear in our communities. Earlier this week I picked my daughter, Mia, up from school in Indiana. Her college had suspended classes for a few weeks—perhaps for the rest of the year. The drive back was almost like a tour through ghost towns: stores and business were closed and the roads unusually sparse. I recently spoke with a business owner who acknowledged how rattled many of his employees were over the whole scene. The news stories on this matter always seem to be in flux. We are truly in uncharted territory. We are being distressed by “various trials.”
We pray for a quick resolve to the spread of this crisis in our country. We recognize how consequential it is for so many of us on varied levels. But there is something else we need to be praying for too. Times like this will reveal what’s in our heart. Or, as Mia put it a few days ago, times like this will expose our idols: Who do we trust? Who do we serve? Who do we live for?
On one hand we might think that we what we are going through isn’t a faith issue. After all, the coronavirus isn’t a respecter of faiths. But the truth is how we conduct ourselves in times like this is all about our faith. And in times like these we do well to heed the Apostle Peter’s admonition to “gird our minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix our hope completely on the grace of Christ, and to walk in holiness.” (Verse 13-15).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, may you use my circumstances and experiences to shape my character in accordance with your Word. That in my circumstances I would honor you and reflect your holiness to a fearful and lost world.