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2. Open Your Eyes

Instead of becoming self-consumed in our suffering, we can open our eyes to the relationships in our life and and love these people through Christ’s power within us.

For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

-1 Peter 2:20-25

Who would have thought a Nazi concentration camp could become a mission field for a prisoner? Surprisingly, such was the case for Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch woman arrested by the German military for harboring Jews during World War II. Motivated by her love for Christ, Corrie chose to hide and care for vulnerable people in her home. 

But even after entering the concentration camp, Corrie’s mindset to care for others didn’t change. Corrie endured the brutal conditions of Nazi imprisonment, faced with abuse, starvation, and a lack of physical necessities. She was housed in a building meant for 400 but occupied by 1400 women prisoners. One can only imagine the anguish and the mental battle that must have been daily raging inside someone enduring such circumstances. 

But amazingly, Corrie chose to view her circumstances as an opportunity - an opportunity to love people and show them the love of Christ. She and her sister started a quickly thriving Bible study in the sewing room they were assigned to. Corrie was always on the lookout for someone she could pray for, encourage, or give assistance to. 

Corrie eventually watched her sister die in the camp, and yet, despite the great pain and resounding trauma she endured, Corrie decades later had the chance to reconcile with some of the prison guards from her past. Because of Jesus, she forgave the guards and was able to continue preaching the good news of the gospel despite her immense suffering. 

When we suffer, it can be easy to settle into survival mode. We can become consumed with ourselves and our circumstances. In the letter of 1 Peter, however, we’re presented with  another path, the path modeled by Christians such as Corrie Ten Boom. Peter lifts his reader out of despair and stagnation, calling them to live for God within their suffering! As we explored in the first devotional of this series, it is trusting that God is taking care of us that moves from anxious preoccupation with our trials to purposeful living for Christ! 

But what exactly does it look like to live for God in our suffering? In this devotional, we’ll explore how we live for God by humbly loving others around us. 

In chapter 2 of his letter, Peter challenges Christians to keep their conduct honorable amidst an unbelieving society. This is so that, “When they speak against you, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation (1 Peter 2:12).” Peter goes on to give examples of these “good deeds.” 

Citizens, respect your governmental authorities, even if you don’t like them, and live public lives above reproach.

Employees, honor your employers, even when you’re treated unfairly.

Wives, humbly empower your husbands to take responsibility in your family life, and let your behavior toward them be directed by a deep trust in God. 

Husbands, go out of your way to honor your wives, intentionally seeking to know and understand them. 

Each of these scenarios has the common denominator of humble love for others. 

Peter’s calling is summed up in 1 Peter 3:8-9: “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”

Instead of becoming self-consumed in our suffering, we can open our eyes to the relationships in our life. We can intentionally focus on humbly loving these people. We may not have the energy to serve in the same capacity at a church ministry, but we can make small efforts of kindness with a lonely neighbor. We may not have the mental bandwidth for an impressive project or endeavor, but we can share what God has been teaching us with a friend. We may find ourselves in a new season lacking a network or a platform, but we can show Christ to our spouse by making the first move toward reconciliation in a conflict.

1 Peter urges us to realize that every act of humble love, no matter how small, shows people Christ! This book reminds us of the high and noble calling we’ve been given of reflecting Christ to others: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).” 

No matter the season, we can find meaning and purpose. We are priests of God, honored with the privilege of knowing and communing with Christ, and blessed with the mission of sharing Christ with others through love. In other words, we are given the great responsibility of connecting others to God, showing them who we have experienced God to be through our personal relationship with him.

In hearing this, you might feel at a loss to find the energy and capacity to live missionally in your suffering, but Peter reminds us that this strength does not come from within ourselves. Peter points us to the source: “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21).” We can selflessly love others because Christ loved and suffered for us. 

Jesus gave his life for us on the cross so that our sins might be forgiven and we might be reconciled to God. Jesus took on the wrath of God so that we could always and forever stand in the love of God. By his wounds you have been healed, 1 Peter 2:24 says. Having been shown so great a love, we are filled with the capacity to love and sacrifice for others. We can confidently accept God’s calling to show Christ to the world through humble love because love himself dwells within us. 

RESPOND: Take a moment to process in prayer with God whom you might focus on intentionally loving and caring for in this season. 

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