Devotional for Tuesday, May 19, 2020

“Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power for ever and ever.  Amen.” (I Peter 5:8-11)

Recently, I’ve been thinking about stubbornness.  It seems to be present in everyone, albeit to different degrees, but more likely just hidden to various degrees by different people.  Children wear their stubbornness on their sleeves and shout it from the rooftops (or just right in front of you.)  I know I’m stubborn and that I come from a clan of stubborn people.  We all know that stubbornness is bad, but then again, we read here that we are to “stand firm.”  Like all sin, we have taken something good and corrupted it by misusing it.  In other words, there is a good side to stubbornness, which is revealed when we apply it rightly as faith in Jesus and hope for His promises to us.  Faith is the right application for our stubbornness; rebellion is the wrong application for our stubbornness.  But we do not advocate for a faith just for faith’s sake either – our faith is in something sure: Christ.  As we learned on Friday, humility requires faith and faith is future hope in Christ.  But this hope is not the same as when we say “I hope it doesn’t rain today;” rather, it is a yearning for what we know is coming – “I long for (hope for) the rain that I know is coming today!”  Or rather, we hope (yearn) to see Jesus face-to-face.  This hope is most evident these days because we long to be together again after two months apart from each other – but this is what we need to feel all the time as God’s children longing for the coming of our King and Savior!  I don’t know about you, but this time of quarantine does not feel short at all; just the opposite, because every day gets longer as I am eager to see all of you face-to-face again (and give you a good hug!)  Even so, our passage refers to the whole time we spend on earth suffering for doing good as Christ-followers as only “a little while!”  How can this be?

This reminds me of one of my heroes of the faith: Joseph.  I’m sure as a teenager he was quite annoying, but the faith and hope he demonstrated throughout his life is most inspiring.  He was almost killed by his brothers, sold into slavery in a foreign country, set up by his master’s wife to look like an untrustworthy, promiscuous worker when she was the one living a terrible lie, locked up in prison under false pretenses without a trial for a decade, forgotten even after blessing someone with a life-saving vision… and all this time he stayed faithful to God, and even forgave his brothers when they reappeared in his life unannounced!  During that decade, I’m sure the days did not speed by as Joseph hoped for his restoration.  But as he looked back at that time afterwards, I’m sure it seemed a lot shorter than it felt at the time.  So it is with us who have real hope and a solid faith.  Our sufferings for the cause of Christ (which is different than just a broken down car or a screaming child, but ridicule and oppression for not fitting in with the world’s way of thinking and doing) are only “light and momentary trials” (II Cor. 4:17) that are only “for a little while” (I Pet. 1:6), and they are “not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).  Everything will be made right in due time.  Maintain faith in that hope today.  What promises of God are you hoping for?

Posted by Luke Ellison on 5/19/2020