Let yourself become open to God and the knowledge that comes from the Word. Ask God for peace at this time.
1 Peter 1:3-9 (NRSV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
While reflecting on this passage, I thought about the Christians who were persecuted for their faith in Christ. I read a story about the forty martyrs of Sabaste. Those forty soldiers, all Christians, were members of the famed Twelfth Legion of Rome’s imperial army. One day their captain told them Emperor Licinius had sent out an edict that all soldiers were to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. These Christians replied, “You can have our armor and even our bodies, but our hearts’ allegiance belongs to Jesus Christ.”
It was midwinter of A.D. 320, and the captain ordered them to march onto a nearby frozen lake. He stripped them of their clothes and said they would either die or renounce Christ. Throughout the night these men huddled together singing their song, “Forty martyrs for Christ.” One by one the temperature took its toll and they fell to the ice.
At last there was only one man left. He lost courage and stumbled to the shore, where he renounced Christ. The officer of the guards had been watching all this. Unknown to the others, he had secretly come to believe in Christ. When he saw this last man break rank, he walked out onto the ice, threw off his clothes, and confessed that he also was a Christian. When the sun rose the next morning, there were forty bodies of soldiers who had fought to the death for Christ.
Peter tells us that through Christ’s resurrection we are given a new birth into a living hope. Like gold we will be tested by fire and like gold, we are so very precious to God.
Loving and awesome God, be with us in times of trials and dark days. Mold us to be the people you would have us be. Give us the confidence to stand up for our convictions. In the name of our resurrected Christ. Amen.
Go with God.