Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
– 1 Peter 1:1-9
I have my early morning routine. I get up usually very early, tend to necessities, and spend time reading…the comics! I actually pay for a daily email of about 20 comics, from Calvin and Hobbes to Non Sequitur, from BC to Frank and Ernest, from Bound and Gagged to Pluggers. The list goes on. It’s a habit. I’ll leave you to judge whether it’s a good habit or not. But I seldom miss. (I do also read a daily scripture email from the Moravians, read several newspaper articles and listen to some podcasts.) Then it’s to the (now virtual) workout, and on into the day.
These are daily habits, most of which serve me well. But I’m wondering what habits of hopefulness I pursue. These days present plenty of reasons to be discouraged. There are many opportunities for destructive habits we may also engage in as well. But we need not give them our attention now.
What about some habits of hopefulness? Peter hints at three habits, or practices) that undergird and strengthen hope.
- Prayers of Praise: When we praise God two important things happen. We honor God and recognize who he is and how good he is and how worthy of honor and glory he truly is. We lean into his goodness, love, and glory when we praise him. And we put ourselves and all the world’s problems in perspective. Nothing and no one is as great, powerful, good, honorable, and good as God is. Praise helps us remember that. Knowing that God embraces our praise with his love emboldens our faith. Prayers of praise are a habit of holiness. This is how Peter begins this letter, by the way; this letter of hope.
- Blessing Others: When we look for ways to bless others – and when we are able actually to do so – we are facing the world and life itself with an attitude that opens us to hope. When we’re looking for ways to do good to others, we are not focusing on the troubles all around us. We are looking to others’ needs and bring a ray of hope into their lives. They think, “Someone does care. I matter.” Hope begins to blossom. Peter’s approach to this letter and the people to whom he is writing is that of blessing them. He is a messenger of hope.
- Acknowledging the Difficulties: When we ignore the brutal facts we don’t necessarily have hope. We have naive wistfulness. Hope shines brightest when the challenges all around us darken our view. This is the treasure and blessing of true hope. It is most precious under pressure and most powerful in the face of trials. For hope does not focus on the things at hand, but looks forward to a better time. That’s why Peter reminds the people that their faith and hope are precious, even though they “have been grieved by various trials.”
Which of these might you focus on this week?