Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13)
These words from 1 Peter address persecution of Christians who witness to their faith, but there is an empathetic parallel with what we are facing today as a global community. Our emotional well-being, our physical relationships, our spiritual grounding are all being tested by the ongoing pandemic and all its challenges. It is fair to categorize our current reality as a “fiery ordeal,” and indeed it tests our faith, whether this is viewed as God’s intention or not, but the real power and impact of this passage of scripture is verse 13 – rejoice in our sufferings as a sharing in Christ’s suffering that we may be glad and shout for joy.
What would it be like to face the threat, danger, grief, and loss caused by the pandemic without a deep and abiding faith? Without God, I believe it would be much harder, much darker, and much bleaker to navigate. God’s Holy Spirit is a wellspring of hope, of comfort, of promise, of healing, and of strength. Grounded in God’s love, guided by the Christ’s teachings, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, I believe our current challenges are a completely different experience than for those without a faith base. Rejoice that God is with us. Be glad and shout for joy that no matter how strange things get, we are not left to face this all alone. We have God in Christ, we have the strength of the Holy Spirit, and we have the blessed community in Christ with each other. Thanks be to God!
Loving, guiding, leading God, we thank you. There is much to shock us, to frighten us, to undermine our “normal” life, but we are a people of faith, so that nothing can keep us down. We are lifted up by your Spirit, we are encouraged by your grace, and we are awed by your power. Bless us and constantly remind us who we are, and most importantly who you are, we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.