Our Eternal Hope

There are some things that transform how we view our current circumstances. If you were recently doing exams, all that time revising and the challenge of the exams themselves is a stress you might want to do without. But if the exams were to gain access to your dream job, or to achieve that long-awaited desire to drive a car without ‘L plates’, the hope of what is to come transforms your present challenges. If you were in pain from an operation, but that operation was going to give you mobility after years in a wheel-chair, the pain of the present is transformed in the light of the outcome yet to come.

In Peter’s first epistle he is writing to Christians who are suffering intensely. New persecutions were challenging the church, God’s people were being scattered throughout the known world (1:1), and believers were experiencing insults, false accusation and even painful trials (4:12-15). Peter is going to speak directly into those experiences. But there is a greater thing he wants them to see – something that will transform how they face these difficulties.

In 1 Peter 1:3-9 we are encouraged to see all current difficult circumstances in their true context. What is that context? Well, the heart of it is given in v3-4, and the consequences of that hope are shown us in v5-9

We have an inheritance (v3-4)
We have eternity to come, all things made new, every tear wiped away and, gloriously, in His presence! Our time in this life is so we can be lights shining for him, Holy (1v13-2:2), Confident (2:4-10), Transformed (2:11-4:11), Rejoicing even in extreme difficulty (4:12-19). We live as citizens of Heaven right now, because that is who we truly are – this Hope transforms our present suffering, our outlook and our purpose.

We are shielded (v5)
Knowing we have this inheritance, we need not fear, nor be discouraged! Its a guaranteed inheritance (Eph 1:13-14). There is nothing that this world can do that will take away all we have yet to come (Rom 8:38-39). How transforming this confidence should be – no matter what we face our real reward, our heart’s desire can never be taken from us.

We can rejoice (v6-7)
Rejoice in the middle of intense trouble? Yes! But not because of the trouble. Rather, it is our hope that leads us to rejoice because even the trouble is being used by God to perfect His work in us – we are being “refined by fire”. We are not mourning our lost comfort or ease, but rejoicing because we can see our current pain is bringing to pass the purpose of our life here and eternity to come.

We find our joy in Jesus (v8)
If our hope is in Him, our joy will be to bring Him praise; if our inheritance is Jesus, we will rejoice when He is being honoured. Love for Him that is greater than love for our body, our career, even our family means that we still find joy, even in the tears, because our true love cannot be taken away.

We have absolute certainty (v9)
What confidence we find in v9! “You are receiving the goal of your faith”! Nothing that we go through now can take away His great reward. What we are living for will come to pass.

Going back to the exam situation we started with. I recall sitting my Computer Science A-level. For me there was excitement because I knew that this was what I was wanted to study at University and so it wasn’t just another qualification. The exam wasn’t painful, but rather I saw it as an opportunity. For most others doing the same exam the experience was so different – it was another painful exam which they just wanted to be over and done with. For me, the hope of what was to come transformed the present experience.

And so it is for us in our Christian life. If I know Jesus as saviour, if He is the most precious one to me, if He is my goal, then my present circumstances are transformed. They are stepping stones to Him, they are part of His work, they are what bring glory to His name, and nothing that happens can take me away from eternity with Him. Our eternal hope should transform everything.