We all need hope to help us get through tough times. When we’re sick, we hope to get well. When we’re unemployed, we hope for a job. When our family breaks up, we hope for reconciliation. Prisoners serving a long sentence hope for a pardon or parole.
One of the very best parts of Christianity is that it’s a religion of hope. Many world religions are more about fear – fear that either there is no life after death or that the next life might be worse. Christians, on the other hand, are all about hope. God has promised to see us through the worst this world can deal to us. God promises us eternal life. The best is always yet to come.
This was especially important to first century Christians who were few in number and constantly threatened with suffering. Their confidence in God in the midst of uncertainties was amazing. Their enemies killed them because of their faith, only to discover that Christians faced death with hope. Martyrdom became a stunning tool for evangelism and recruitment. As the pagans saw the hope demonstrated by Jesus’ followers even as they died, many decided to become Christians themselves.
It was to these suffering Christians, and to us today, that St. Peter penned these words of hope, “And the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.”