“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” Anybody who has any idea about American soap operas will automatically see the opening of the old “Days of our Lives” TV show. As trite as that may sound, there is a “grain” of truth in the fact that life really is fleeting and we really do experience life slipping through our fingers at times, don’t we?
I was telling someone the other day that getting older isn’t for cowards! And, as time marches on, I can’t tell you how many times of late that I look around and wonder “where did it all go?” I’m convinced this is a partial reason for the challenge of “hoarding” that many face today. The fear of loss or lack drives some to pile as much stuff around them as possible so that they can feel secure. But even that doesn’t do the trick after a while! But what if I told you there was one inheritance that wasn’t fleeting, that didn’t wear out or grow old or able to be stolen? Interested?
Look at One Peter (hehehe) 1:1-25; 2:1-10 (If you get it keep it to yourself!):
PETER, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the exiles of the Dispersion in Pontos, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by 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! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls.
St. Peter writes to several groups of Christians facing times of persecution and trouble, and his direction to them is wisdom for us as well today!
First, suffering is only for “a little while.” There really is an end to suffering. As was once told me to illustrate this, if someone were to suffer every day of their life and they lived to be a hundred years old, mere seconds after their entrance into eternity will make every moment of suffering seem like the merest flicker of a second. It’s perspective that makes the difference when facing troubles.
Next, suffering does more than hurt; it refines and it reveals. There’s nothing like pressure to uncover that someone is made of in the first place. Frankly, I’m convinced this is why most of us avoid suffering, so that our weakness won’t be displayed for everyone to see. And yet, I have seen over and over again that people are much stronger than they realize. I’ve even seen the surprise on a person’s face when they discover that they CAN and DO survive times of trouble.
Finally, suffering, well endured, just makes God’s glory clear and those around us stronger! This imperishable inheritance of joy and peace is already Who God is anyway, but when we face challenges with grace and strength and peace, we mimic His wisdom, love, and confidence. And, in so doing, we display His glory to a world that increasingly both needs this glory and rejects this glory. What a testimony of confidence when we actually believe that not even death can overcome the life of Christ! No wonder we’ve been singing “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death. And on those in the tombs bestowing life” for 20 centuries!
Today, are you enjoying the perspective of an imperishable inheritance? Does that sure truth steel your spine in the face of hard times? If so, then you can identify with the quiet confidence this truth creates, and if not, I invite you to join me in embracing this timeless and normal Orthodox way of life!
P.S. Have a wonderful weekend and I hope Sunday finds you at liturgy! Don’t forget to join me Sunday night at 8 PM for Faith Encouraged LIVE. My special guest will be Adam Roberts and we’ll talk about a new ministry to Orthodox Christian Singles. It’s going to be a wonderful St. Valentine’s Day program!