There are difficult and challenging times for most of us. In addition to the spiritual stresses that come with living in a world of unbelief and increasingly loud calls for tolerance and the disregard of universal truth in any form, people in all categories face physical, relational, and economic challenges. Grace and peace are rare commodities, indeed.
But these circumstances are not new. Believers in the early church lived in a world hostile to Christianity and characterized by disease and death, cruelty, and poverty. And yet the Apostle Peter, in his second epistle, strikes a decidedly positive note:
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and Jesus
our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything
pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him
who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has
granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them
you may become packagers of the divine nature....(II Peter 1:2-4a)
Peter is, of course, no stranger to struggle and hardship. The Gospels recount the calling and training of a very immature Peter to be the Apostle who establishes Christ’s church on earth after Jesus’s ascension and return to heaven. Life was hard for those early apostles and disciples. And a few verses later in Peter’s second epistle, he acknowledges that his own death is imminent.
But Peter. Just as Peter’s Master defied convention and expectation (But Jesus), so does Peter. Despite the challenges of the times, Peter declares with confidence that grace and peace can be experienced—and multiplied!—as we cling to Christ and the knowledge of Him. As we persevere in faith, we can experience the grace and peace of Christ not as we escape challenge but even in the midst of it. And in doing so, we encounter the opportunity to partake in the nature of Christ Himself.
This statement takes my breath away. A life of faith is not about gritting our teeth and white-knuckling it into heaven. It is about living in the knowledge that while we will have tribulation, our Lord, Savior, and Master has overcome the world. (John 16:33). We can look for “our great High Priest who has passed through the heavens…. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” We can find the core of our being in Him and know His grace and peace in the midst of trouble and sorrow. This truth does not minimize or deny suffering: our suffering is so significant to God that Jesus came to redeem it. But to borrow a phrase from the Apostle Paul, how much more will Jesus’s glorious grace and peace cover us as we suffer and experience sorrow.
May we take Peter’s exhortation to heart and look for the grace and peace of our Lord and encourage others with the knowledge of Christ as well.