1. Dont' Survive; Thrive
In seasons of suffering, we can break free from anxiety holding us back and move forward with purpose by resting in the care and control of God.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
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, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 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.
-1 Peter 1:1-7
Four short weeks had passed since I informed my counselor I would no longer be needing our sessions. I explained how I was in such a great place in life. I had used the word thriving. Oh how different things felt now.
Pregnant with our second child, I found myself overcome by constant and debilitating nausea. The intense sickness frequently led to blood pressure drops and blacking out, and it felt excruciating to eat anything, let alone attend to normal life tasks or chase around our toddler. I was miserable, both physically and mentally. I lost interest in most things and only looked forward to sleeping. I didn’t want to connect with other people, with God, or with myself.
For a season, my hardship led me to check out on life. Can you resonate?
Has your suffering led you to settle for a mentality of simply surviving?
Suffering can take many forms - a silent but agonizing battle with anxiety or depression; a grueling marathon through a physical illness; an overwhelming season of change and transition. In every form, suffering always seems to make living with purpose more difficult. Perhaps when we feel we’re already giving everything we have just to make it through the day, it seems unattainable to pursue anything else.
Peter’s letter was written to a group of Christ-followers who were also suffering. They found themselves persecuted for their faith under a harsh dictator, and their situation was not likely to change anytime soon. In his writing, Peter urges his readers to aspire to more than just surviving in their circumstances. He charges Christians to live for God - even in their suffering!
Stagnation is fueled by anxious fixation on our trials, so Peter counters this tendency by pointing us to the care and control of God. Trusting that God is taking care of us loosens the hold of fear and frees us to live faithfully. The first part of Peter’s letter unpacks this assurance:
First, your past was taken care of by God.
To those who are elect exiles…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood. May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
-1 Peter 1:1-2
Peter is communicating that, if you believe in Christ, you were chosen by God to be part of his family and to grow in spiritual maturity. God knew you and knew the suffering you would endure before the world was even created. Every circumstance, every sorrow, every hardship finds purpose in God’s sovereign and sanctifying work.
Second, your future is taken care of by God.
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, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…
-1 Peter 1:3-4
In Christ, you have a future hope for an inheritance of eternal life spent with God in perfect peace and restoration. Your eternal life is never at risk. No one can steal it from you, and no suffering or evil can cause it to change. It is entirely secure.
Third, your present is taken care of by God.
…who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time
-1 Peter 1:5
As you await your future hope, you are being guarded and protected by God himself. Because he is with you and for you, your suffering will not crush you or have the last word.
Your past, future and present are all taken care of by God.
Peter then bridges this assurance to action, explaining to those suffering how they might then live. “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,” he says in 1 Peter 1:14-15.
To be holy is to be separate from sin and to devote ourselves to glorifying God, and it is God’s care that enables us to live holy lives for him! God’s protection frees us from being preoccupied with our wellbeing because we trust that he is taking care of us.
It’s important to note that Peter isn’t promising relief from our suffering. The care and control of God frees us from our fear and despair to live holy lives for him within our suffering.
In the next devotionals of this series we’ll unpack more specifically what it looks like to live for God in our trials, but it’s important to first grasp the key to sustained faithfulness. Having been born again through the living and abiding Word of God, we are exhorted by Peter: “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good (1 Peter 2:2-3).”
To drink the milk of the Word is to taste and experience God through the gift of Scripture! It is to nourish our hearts with a steady reminder of who God is to us. We attain abundant and purposeful living within our trials by coming back again and again to the assurance we have in God, revealed through his Word.
As we’ve explored in 1 Peter, in your suffering, go to and encounter the God who chose you in love; who brought you into his family, and who gave you spiritual life. Encounter the God who gifted you with an indescribable and imperishable hope and future. Encounter the God who is with you in your suffering and using your trials for your good and joy. Encounter the God whose care and control is over your past, present and future.
RESPOND: Take a moment to go to God in prayer. Ask him to give you a deeper assurance of his loving control over your suffering.