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
There is a mystery surrounding the infection of a number of US Navy personnel aboard the USNS Mercy, a hospital ship staffed by a number of Navy medical workers. Somehow 7 of the workers have tested positive for COVID-19. But it is very unclear how it is even possible for them to have contracted the virus. We do know, however, where the disease comes from. It comes from a virus. It comes because we are in a fallen world where because of sin (not necessarily specific sins).
Let’s look at another thing: From where does hope come? We might be used to skipping over the introductions to various letters in the Bible. Paul begins so many of his with his name and then those words, “grace and peace”. Peter does much the same here: “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.”
Look more closely at the first verses of this letter. Note well what Peter says. “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.”
These people are elect. They are chosen by God. He has moved toward them in compassion and kindness, mercy and grace. He has called them to faith. He has saved them and they are now his children. This is true of us as well.
They are in a place not unknown beforehand to God. Their situation is no surprise to God. He knew before the first hint of the testing of various trials even surfaced that they would be facing those trials. He knew that they would be facing them. He needed no contingency. He didn’t have to regroup. So too with us in these present times.
They were set apart by the Holy Spirit. That word, sanctification or sanctified means set aside or set apart. The idea of such being set aside or set apart is two-fold. Those who are set aside are subject to a specific purpose. God’s purpose in setting us all aside is in order that we may be blessed and be a blessing to others. Those who are sanctified or set apart are also the subject of God’s special attention and care. When I pray, I often ask God to set aside a person for his special attention and care. We are set aside be be blessed and to be a blessing to others. We are also set aside for God’s special attention and care. This is a good thing.
These are the elements of God’s wellspring of hope: Being set apart, being chosen by God, and being in a place known by God – long before you ever thought of being wherever you are. That’s where hope comes from.