We are living in the days of every kind of aggravation. In all of my years of living, I have never experienced this level of sustained aggravation before. There were certainly times of grief, trial, exhaustion, and all manner of challenges, but not like this. How about you? I won’t even attempt to list them, but just a snapshot of trying to buy groceries once a week should give you a picture. Spoiler alert: there is a lot of WHINING in this next section.
I don’t report to work early on Sundays anymore since we are now taping the service on Thursdays. That should make for a nice, slow Sabbath. But in the early days of the pandemic, when I was still driving to church on Sunday to do Facebook Live, I discovered that my local Publix opened at 8AM and was very uncrowded…and the toilet paper was restocked every Saturday night.
So now I get out early on Sundays just to shop. That is the beginning of all kinds of aggravation. Mostly it is my N95 mask and disposable gloves that aggravate the heck out of me. By the time I speed through the aisles, being careful to follow the one-way arrows and social distancing, my claustrophobia is peaking and my hands are literally dripping with sweat. And even though I have a concise list, I spend time waiting my turn to go down an aisle that already has a looky-loo leisurely standing in front of an array of products and seemingly reading the ingredient list of each one. She can see me waiting (I dare not pass her) yet she lingers…and ends up not putting anything in her cart.
A friend and I were commiserating about the fact that we used to enjoy shopping and found it relaxing. Now it is like entering a war zone of mine fields, and your heart is racing to just get out. Not to mention all the shortages of products, resulting in having to think on the fly of different meals based on what is actually available. OK, RANT OVER.
Our passage from 1 Peter takes us away from whatever is aggravating us right now, and reminds us that we have been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for:
1 Peter 1 (The Message)
3-5 What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.
My mantra for months now has been, “we are one day closer to the end of this thing.” Look at that last sentence: “The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—-life healed and whole.” Man, did I need to hear that this morning! How about you?
6-7 I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.
Peter reminds us that faith, like gold, gets refined in the fire. Folks, we are in the fire right now. What a time to refine our faith! What an opportunity to come out of this thing stronger, better, and more deeply connected with God because we’ve worked hard to stay in the Word. Think about it…what would you normally be doing right now? Our hustle-bustle life got slammed shut. God is inviting us to use the SLOW to reevaluate EVERYTHING.
8-9 You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.
What is God asking you to reevaluate today? Where do you need further refining? Will you go back to your old self when this is over?
I hope not. I hope that enduring every kind of aggravation right now bears the fruit of all kinds of godly behavior in all of us. And maybe I’ll learn to be more patient with the looky-loos in the grocery store. Anything is possible with God!