Grace under pressure

But God, Three in One, gives more and more

1 Peter 1:2 God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.

Peter wrote his two letters to people who were suffering. There’s no record that he ever traveled through the provinces where they lived, present-day Turkey. Maybe he felt a special bond with them because some were present at his very first sermon on Pentecost, as listed in Acts 2:9.

“More and more grace and peace” could be considered the theme of this letter. Reading further, we discover Peter is talking about inner grace and peace, as they walk through suffering that is more likely to get worse than better.  

Peter gives no promises that circumstances will get better for them; no bandaids as if their wounds are superficial. No pretending things are good when they aren’t. This is a gutsy, honest letter addressing life and death concerns. Today he might be writing to people in Ukraine, or Syria, or Ethiopia, or Venezuela.

Peter knows what he’s talking about. He writes this letter from Rome. Within a year or two, both Peter and Paul will be executed.

When I read this letter, I realize my own “suffering” is small. Yet Peter’s words to people in extreme circumstances resonate with me, too. In tough circumstances, I face the same choices they did. To trust, rather than despair. To live faithfully, rather than cave to pressure. To open my heart to joy when things seem hard. To do good, not harm, even to those who treat me unjustly.

In short, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Easy? No.

So, I’m taking to heart Peter’s encouragement as he sets the stage for his letter. Each member of the holy Trinity engages with us in a unique and significant way. We’re not alone in our challenges, not ever! The Father knows us (Greek prognosis) and has chosen us. The Spirit makes us holy (hagiasmos; a growth process resulting in godliness). Jesus cleanses us (rhantismos, sprinkling: a reference to the power of Christ’s sacrifice to sanctify us, as in Hebrews 9:13-14).

My spiritual director often reminds me that God knew what he had to work with when he chose me. He’s not surprised by my limitations or fragilities or sins. He provides what I need to deal with whatever comes my way; the question is whether I’ll receive it. Recognition of my weakness can either turn me toward self-focused despair, or God-focused hope and gratitude. My choice.

Today, Karis’s birthday, Peter reminds me of “her” verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9: The Lord said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”

Thanks, Peter, Paul, and Karis!I’m walking through this day with my hands and heart open for more and more grace and peace.

Shutterstock: Yulia 0606

4 thoughts on “Grace under pressure

  1. I’ve been thinking of Karis and you today. Broken hearts are always more open to God’s spirit moving within us. Grace allows us to respond and receive glimmers of heavenly grace. Karis has that perspective now. You and I are moving towards that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had heard of Peter, Paul and Mary, in fact I continue to like their songs! Now I’m impressed by the new trio – Peter, Paul and Karis! Not famous for their singing, but as you so well point out, very famous for their living victoriously in the midst of suffering. Thanks so much for making the profound connections, Deb. Lovely tribute to all three of them!

    Liked by 1 person

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