April 19, 2020
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.1 Peter 1:3-9
Whenever you take a test, you want to have the right answer. For example, for you kids at home doing math or for you parents trying to help your kids with math. When you face this test question, “Complete this formula for finding the circumference of a circle: C (C=circumference) = 2blankr (r=radius).” The answer is pi. Another example would be, for those of you out there tired of the same home cooked meal of spaghetti, how can you pass the test of pleasing your family by making quarantine cuisine better? The answer is pie. You face many tests in your life, and although pie can solve many of your problems, it can’t solve them all.
You are facing a test right now. The coronavirus has stopped you from your normal routine and that is a problem. Many different ideas about how to solve the problem have been posed by people ranging from lifting all the restrictions asap to continuing in quarantine until a vaccine is found, distributed to everyone and the number of cases drops to a number on the far side of the bell curve. Regardless of your position on solving the problem, it is putting you to the test and you need an answer. You need an answer to this virus other than complaining. If complaining were the cure to the virus, we would all be cured. Complaining in its many forms is a natural response for all of us. Complaining comes when we face a test that we are not able to answer. When you and I complain, we grasp for control from a position of fear. When we complain, we sit in judgment over situations or people by pointing out how things went wrong, are not being handled well and will not turn out well in the future because we feel it gives us some control when life seems out of our control. The truth is, complaining is not an actual answer to the tests you face. Complaining will leave you afraid and bitter whether the test you face is solved or not.
You need an answer to complaining so that you can see the real answer to the tests you face in life. You have learned that there is no shortage of tests in your life. Tests face those of you in school regarding sports, academics and making friends. Tests face you trying to get a job, keep a job and adjust to doing your job in a changing economic climate. Tests face those of you trying to start a family, raise a family or keep a family together. Tests face those of you realizing your health is at risk from viruses, cancer, stress and old age. Tests face you and me, that is what Peter said in 1 Peter 1, 6 … “for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” You face trials, even as a believer. You are tested by things that seem way out of your control that make complaining all too easy. And, complaining happens when you respond to a situation with doubt and not with hope.
Hope in Jesus passes the tests you face because the answer works. Pi is the right answer in some math problems and pie helps boring quarantine cuisine, but it does not work for what keeps you up at night and what distracts you during the day. Peter gave the answer to your true tests in 1 Peter 1, 3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” You stay up late at night and are distracted during the day because you face difficult tests in your life that you do not feel you are able to solve. You complain because even when you do solve a problem another takes its place. You need Jesus to stop you from complaining by solving the problem in your heart. Your heart hurts because of sin. Sin has ruined you from the inside out, so it must be solved in the heart and then for the body. Jesus is your answer because he solved your problem with sin and death by his mercy. God’s mercy was sparing you from death and hell by punishing Jesus for your sins by putting him to death on the cross. God’s mercy carried out through Jesus means you are now forgiven and sinless in God’s eyes. God’s mercy also allowed Jesus to prove his power to rise from the dead and guarantee your resurrection. This is the hope God put in your heart. He made you alive with hope in Jesus as you look forward to eternal life in heaven. From the inside out, God gave you a new birth of hope and your body will also be raised to life to enjoy an inheritance waiting for you in heaven that will last forever.
Your default for difficult tests is to solve them. If it is a problem at school, you go to the principal, counselor or coach. If it is a work problem, you go to HR, your boss or your boss’ boss. If it is a family problem, you go to a doctor, counselor, therapist or pastor. If you face health problems, you go to the doctor, nutritionist or personal trainer. You face tests all the time and you know where to go to solve them but solving those problems will not solve your complaining problem. All of these tests and answers make your life better for a short amount of time, but to solve your problem of complaining and to give you an answer that satisfies you forever, go to God’s Word. The Bible is filled with witnesses to what Jesus did for you as Peter said in Acts 10, 41 “He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Jesus has forgiven you and he is your hope for eternal life. When complaining about tests, trials and problems in your life is the default, the testimonies of those God chose to write down all he did are the place for you to go to drown your fearful complaining heart of sin in the waters of your baptism and in Jesus’ blood shed on the cross, and from God’s Word your new heart of faith and the living hope inside you makes you joyful filling you with praise for God.
Feeling unprepared with the right answer to a test is a terrible feeling. Sin is the reason you are not prepared and why you need help from so many people. You are face with many tests, but Peter wrote, 7 “These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Through faith, you have the greatest gift in Jesus, the answer to sin and death. Jesus is also your answer to complaining because the short-term tests you face now that cause you grief will be forgotten and overshadowed by the unending joy you will experience in heaven forever. Also, all of the other tests you face at school and work, with family and health that you are able to solve with principals, coaches, counselors, HR, bosses, doctors, etc. they are made better because you have hope in Jesus, not complaining, but joyful God gives them to help you. The help you receive from others is like having ice cream with your pie. The ice cream are all the blessings God gives you in this life, but the pie is that Jesus has given you 4 an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” Feed your faith with the Word of God during the tests in your life and you will have the joy of hope in these words from John 20, 31 “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Whenever you take a test, you want to have the right answer. We put our hope in what was seen by many witnesses and recorded in the Bible, the resurrection of Jesus. Through Jesus you will be resurrected. Until then, 4 … “This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” God is with you through all your tests, guarding and keeping you joyful because hope in Jesus passes the test. Amen.