On our return from San Francisco we found a flood. A water tank in the loft had overflowed. My daughter's bedroom ceiling was saturated, her carpet ruined, the underlay soaked and the floorboards wet. Perhaps worst was the fact that all her references for her PhD were turned to papier mache. Fortunately, we had taken out house and contents insurance a couple of weeks ago and the response from the insurers was great. (Take a bow, Swintons) The leak was repaired within an hour and next Wednesday a drying out company is coming. The carpet had to come up anyway for the electrician after Christmas. Most of the references have been retrievable from the internet, and the others should be obtainable for a couple of hundred dollars.
Then the washing machine broke. With a week's dirty washing this was very trying. I found a company I had never heard of in the Yellow Pages and a couple of hours later a technician called and replaced the brushes on our 5-year old Bosch and now it works well.
In I Peter 1:6-7 it says: In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
My first reaction was to say that many people have it worse than we had it. Christians throughout the world are suffering imprisonment, persecution, torture and beatings for their faith. Others have lost their homes jobs and livelihood. Some are orphaned, bereaved and killed. But that is not enough. It is little comfort for those who are suffering to say that there are some who have it worse. There may come a time when there is no-one worse off. No far better to realise that we have a living hope (verse 3). Whatever happens to us now, better things are coming.
As I look at the cricket score in India I might well say that I hope England win. India are being asked to score an unlikely total on the final day of the Test match and the odds are that England will attain a fine victory. But it by no means certain. Indian batsmen might score well and quickly; in Sachin Tendulka they have probably the finest batsmen in the world. Rain may intervene and force a draw or England's bowling might be innocuous and by blocking and defending India might hang on for a draw. The 'hope' referred to by Peter is not like that. It is more like the opposite of hopelessness. I could never expect to win an Olympic medal at clay pigeon shooting, however much I might hope to do so. I'm hopeless at that sort of thing. But if I open my front door after church and smell the meat in the oven, I not only hope for a fine dinner, I expect it. It is a certain hope.
Our certain hope does not depend on us but on the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (v3). If it depended on me I could well make a mess of it. I've been known to miss open goals in the past. But our salvation depends on Christ. He has already paid the price of our sins and in raising him from the dead, God has signaled that the sacrifice is sufficient. It is an inheritance that cannot perish, spoil or fade. Treasures that we lay up on earth perish. Have you ever disinterred an old dress or tie or suit that has been handing in the loft and found moth holes in it? The stitching has frayed or the colors have faded. Even metal objects will have tarnished. When I was young the pound was worth 2.84 dollars, now it is barely half that, and the dollar itself is pretty worthless. We talked about going into the Euro zone at 2 Euros to the pound, now it is close to parity. We invested in our house. Safe as houses, goes the saying. Our house has become a money pit. There is one inheritance that never fades, perishes or spoils; the salvation of our souls (v9).
This inheritance is kept in heaven for us (v4). It is not heaven itself. The Bible promises a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation Ch 21). Then, there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. Then, he will wipe every tear from our eyes. But if we die before the Lord returns we have a resting place with him in heaven (as he said to the dying thief - this day you will be with me in paradise) and when he returns those who die in Christ will rise first with new incorruptible bodies.
For Christ is our inheritance: to be with him, to hear him and see him and touch him. For all the beauty of San Francisco bay, it was worth much more to be able to share it with my wife. However beautiful heaven might be it would not be heaven without Jesus. It is to be with him that makes it heaven. A new heaven and earth that was just like the old one with the slate wiped clean would soon become corrupted again. The new heaven and earth will lack something that characterizes this one - sin.
There is a hope that stands the test of time,
That lifts my eye beyond the beckoning grave,
To see the matchless beauty of a day divine
When I behold his face!
When sufferings cease and sorrows die,
And every longing satisfied.
Then joy unspeakable will flood my soul,
For I am truly home.
Stuart Townend and Mark Edwards.