40 Days of Hope
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Thursday, April 11
Simon Peter lived at a precarious time in human history. Christianity was brand new. It had been birthed into a Graeco-Roman-Jewish context. Followers of Jesus would face persecution from Greeks, Romans, and Jews. No one would understand that any better than Peter.
We believe he wrote this letter from Rome. He was concerned about the impending persecution to be experienced by followers of Jesus in Asia Minor. This particular letter has been a source of encouragement for persecuted Christians for centuries. They have found great comfort both in the message of the letter and in the example of Peter himself.
As I write these words, I have just returned from my annual Christian History tour of Rome. I have just walked past the Mamertine Prison in Rome. This was where Simon Peter was imprisoned at the end of his life. I visited the massive St. Peter’s Basilica on Vatican Hill. It is a huge and glorious structure. However, it is built adjacent to the ancient Circus of Nero --- site of the crucifixion of many Christians. In fact, it was in that very circus where Peter was crucified upside down and he died as a Christian martyr at the hands of a wicked emperor.
The church is actually built over the ancient tomb of Peter. This hill contains not just the remains of Peter, but the remains of hundreds of Christians who were buried here outside the walls of Rome. While this grand basilica is generally regarded as the home of Roman Catholicism, its location is actually a reminder to us of the cost of following Jesus in the first century.
So, I am not surprised that Peter interrupts his lofty excursus on our eternal security with a word about earthly trials. He is well aware of the grief that accompanies these times of testing. God has chosen not to exempt us from suffering and pain. But God has promised to be with us during those times and to use those times of testing for His glory.
Read verse 7 closely. Trying times can be used by God as agents of purification. Like the ancient goldsmith tasked with removing impurities from the gold, God can use our times of testing to purify our faith. And, Peter concludes that purified faith is more valuable than purified gold!
Are you going through trials today? Are you experiencing the pain of suffering? Ask God to make Himself known in the midst of it all. Ask Him to give you the strength to endure and may your faith be purified.