Summary: The rugged hope of the believer is not that we will escape distress or peril or hunger or slaughter, but that Almighty God will make every one of our agonies an instrument of his mercy to do us good. God gives us the staying power to make it home.
General Motors has a feature since 1996 that makes their cars unique. It’s the OnStar system. You have probably heard of the OnStar system on television. It can help you unlock your car when you lock yourself out. It can assist you finding a restaurant or directions to your hotel when traveling. It can assist you by calling emergency services when you are an accident. It can even check your email or stock quotes so keep your hands free for driving. According the HOWSTUFFWORKS.com, more than 4 million people are a part of the Onstar network. There are many components that go together to make the OnStar system work. There are the buttons found on the rearview mirror. The blue Onstar button allows you to contact a live advisor. The red Onstar button allows you contact someone in case of an emergency. There is the GPS antenna so the satellites in the sky know where you are. There is the cell phone antenna so an operator can contact you when needed. There is an additional sensor on the airbags and another controller on the door locks. There is also the computer under the hood of your car that controls everything together. The car continually receives signals from the GPS satellite so Onstar knows where you are. If something bad happens, like running out of gas or a tire goes flat, either you call Onstar by simply pressing the button inside your car or … Onstar automatically calls you inside your car when the sensor tells it that your airbags have deployed. The computer underneath the hood uses the cellphone antenna to communicate the car’s location to Onstar. Onstar is a way for people to get help easily and quickly in emergency.
Our faith lives in a hostile world. The faith in a sovereign God who runs each and every element in the universe is having a hard time these days. For many Americans, it is becoming more and more difficult to believe in altogether good and infinitely powerful God. For many people the pain and misery of living camouflages any hope one has in finding the God of the Bible.
One skeptic has recently written: “Why has God made it so difficult to believe in him? If I loved somebody and had infinite power, I would use that power to show myself more obviously. Why has God made it so difficult to see his presence and his plan?” This is a fair and haunting question. Theologians refer to this as “the hiddenness of God.” The skeptic uses stronger terms, referring to God as the God who has absconded and left us with no visible sign of His existence. Many of us wish that God were more like the Onstar system. Wherever life takes us, we like to know that God is near to assist us in emergencies. We like for Him to make His presence more visible to us as we grapple with the difficulties of life. We want God to be present at the push of a button.
For the next few weeks, we’re are going to examine the words of Peter. These words are in the first letter of two letters we have recorded for us and are known as 1 Peter in our Bibles. Peter wrote to Christian believers scattered throughout modern day Turkey. He writes to encourage them because they are experiencing the world’s hatred. These new believers in the faith were feeling the pressure and hostility for their faith in Jesus Christ. This pressure and hostility caused many people to struggle with God. Many Christians had not only their property and livelihoods taken from them, but many also lost their lives. Frankly, they had many more questions than answers.
Christians today want to know where God is when we struggle. When the ninth month of pregnancy brings news of a stillborn infant rather than the joyful arrival of a brand new baby… When the new business brings bankruptcy rather that financial rewards… When the doctor tells you the worst news – “it’s cancer.”
Peter writes his letter to tell us of God’s Providence where God has everything (and we mean everything) worked out for His purpose. Everything is worked out according to God’s eternal plan.
The USS Astoria during WW II engaged the Japanese during the battle for Savo Island before any other ships from the U.S. naval fleet had arrived. During the crucial night of the battle, August 8, the Astoria scored several direct hits on a Japanese vessel but was itself badly damaged and sank the next day. About 0200 hours a young Midwesterner, Signalman 3rd Class Elgin Staples, was swept overboard by the blast when the Astoria’s number one eight-inch gun turret exploded. Wounded in both legs by shrapnel and semi-shock, he was kept afloat by a narrow lifebelt that he managed to activate with a simple trigger mechanism. At around 0600 hours, Staples was rescued by a passing destroyer and returned to the Astoria, whose captain was attempting to save the cruiser by beaching her. The effort failed, and Staples, still wearing the same lifebelt, found himself back in the water at lunchtime. Picked up again, this time by the USS President Jackson (AP – 37), he was one of 500 survivors of the battle who were evacuated to Noumea.