1 Peter 3:13 Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? 14 But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; 16 yet do it with gentleness and reverence.
The community of Christians to whom Peter was writing had been enduring struggles because of their faith. The teachings and practices of the church made them stand out from others in their communities. Yet instead of fighting back or getting even, Peter encourages them to “do what is good”, to respond to evil with kindness. That alone would be strange. But then, these Christians actually had… hope. That made no sense! Where did that come from?
“Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you.”
Hope that simply doesn’t make sense. Hope that must be explained to be believed. It’s been a defining characteristic of Christians from the beginning. Reminds me of a passage from the apostle Paul in Galatians chapter 4:
“6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
A peace that surpasses all understanding. A hope that must be explained. Where does that come from? Another verse, this time from Psalm 46:
“10 “Be still, and know that I am God!”
How does one have hope when things are a mess? How does one have peace in the midst of anxiety and fear? How can one “be still” on the inside when other peoples’ stomachs are turning over? It’s right there in that one little world.
There are many things to lament about getting older. I’ve mentioned a number of them in this space. But it’s not all bad. One thing is for sure. As the years ago by one experiences the faithfulness of God over and over again – during both good times and bad.
I cannot count how many times the Lord has met me in difficult places when I thought I was toast – when I was in over my head, yet the Lord brought me through. Not unscathed necessarily, but intact. And there are many times when I’ve enjoyed the Lord’s blessing. And when the Lord has proven himself time and again, a confidence begins to emerge. Not a confidence in the self or in other people, but in the Lord.
Where does hope come from? Where does peace come from? It comes as a grace from the Lord. Gracious God, help us to receive these things from you today. Amen.