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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 5:6–11
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen. (NRSV)

There are times when I visit people in the church and walk away from the visit knowing that I have spent several precious minutes with a “saint.” These are people who endure great suffering but have somehow managed to “humble themselves under the mighty hand of God.”In other words, despite their sufferings, despite the illnesses they suffer, despite the challenges they face, they know that God is the victor no matter what happens in their lives. They are able to speak honestly about their sufferings and simultaneously proclaim the hope they have experienced in a saving God, a God who is sovereign over all. 

The words from 1 Peter tell us to “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God so that God may exalt us in due time.”This does not mean that we are to accept our sufferings with bland resignation or proclaim that God is the one who gives us our sufferings or believe we are being punished by God via those sufferings. Peter is speaking to people who are being persecuted for their faith in the God they know through Jesus Christ. His instruction is modeled after a phrase that was a commonly used metaphor: “to be humbled under someone’s hands” was a metaphor for being overthrown by enemies. Peter twists the phrase and uses it positively, instructing his listeners to put their lives in God’s hands, to acknowledge God as victor, to let God capture their hearts. This is not a passive act. The instruction goes on: “Discipline yourselves, keep alert.”

I’ve met people who live this way, fully cognizant of the sufferings they face and fully confident in the God they know in Jesus Christ. Sitting in their presence is an experience of joy and sorrow all wrapped up together. I leave those visits with an extra bounce in my step and a new joy in my heart. 

Great and glorious God, let me allow you to capture my heart again. Remind me to talk about your saving grace just as much as I talk about the troubles of this world. Amen.      

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

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