1 Peter 1:3-9 (NRSV)
Verse 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, Verse 4and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, Verse 5who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Verse 6In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, Verse 7so that the genuineness of your faith-being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Verse 8Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, Verse 9for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Remember that 1 Peter is a pastoral letter to those who suffer because of their Christian faith. Believing in salvation through Jesus Christ is proving inconvenient, if not outright dangerous. Being Christian equates to being “othered,” and the author uses this experience to speak about followers of Christ as aliens in this world. Their citizenship and primary belonging is to heaven.
It’s a lot of words to say a simple thing: This is so hard. And also, this is not everything. Your faith matters to God and the world. Lean into your faith because it will give you the strength you need until the truth about Jesus is known by the whole creation. Take joy in knowing that you are already familiar with this love, and salvation is yours.
The author does not dismiss suffering or try to make sense of it. It is real, and God is present in the struggle. And also, life and love will win. This passage is a good reminder that the paradox of faith requires that we honor the suffering that others endure instead of trying to explain it away.
Saving God, we struggle to reconcile the hardships of this world with heaven’s reward. Help us make room for all of it to be true, so that Christians are known by the deep empathy and loving presence of Jesus. Amen.