By Rick Warren
In 1927, an American submarine collided with a Coast Guard vessel off the coast of Provincetown, Massachusetts, and began to sink. The Coast Guard sent divers to assess the damage and begin a rescue operation. As the divers got close to the sub, they heard a sailor tapping on the hull in Morse Code. He asked,
“Is there hope?”
It’s a critical question, particularly as we start a new year. We live in a broken world, a truth that 2020 reminded us of often. Just about everyone had their lives shook up in some way.
Pastors, too, struggled with hopelessness. Many endured ministry challenges they had never faced before.
That’s why the question, “Is there hope?” is so important for 2021.
As your church faces the challenges and joys of 2021, let me point you to five unshakable truths that anchor our hope as Christians. This year, no matter what your congregation is facing, remind yourself and those you lead of these truths from 1 Peter 1.
· God chose us before we chose him.
Peter tells us, “You were chosen according to the purpose of God the Father and were made a holy people by his Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be purified by his blood” (1 Peter 1:2 GNT).
Long before you chose God, He chose you. Your salvation was his idea. God took the initiative. And you were chosen for his purpose—to make you holy and get you ready for heaven.
We all know what it’s like to feel chosen—whether you’re chosen for a team, a job, or as a spouse. But the highest honor you will ever receive is this: God has chosen you to spend eternity with him. That’s a big deal!
· God always treats us with mercy.
Peter goes on to write: “All honor to God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; for it is his boundless mercy that has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God’s own family” (1 Peter 1:3 TLB). The more we understand grace the more it amazes us. It’s completely undeserved and unmerited.
This truth gives us hope even when you blow it (and you will at some point in 2021). When you fail, God doesn’t get mad at you. He always acts with mercy toward you. Why? As a follower of Jesus, you’re covered in his blood and salvation. No matter what’s in store for you or your church, you can rest completely in that truth.
· God has secured our future.
If you’re a believer, you don’t need to worry about your eternal destiny. It’s secure. No matter what else changes in 2021, your eternity won’t shift an inch. Peter writes, “Now we live in the hope of eternal life because Christ rose again from the dead. And God has reserved for his children the priceless gift of eternal life; it is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay” (1 Peter 1:3 TLB).
You have a reservation in heaven that can never be canceled. 2021 won’t be the end of you. God has written the final chapter of your life—and you win!
· God’s power will protect us.
No matter what the year ahead has in store, you can always count on God to help. Peter describes it like this: “Through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see” (1 Peter 1:4 NLT).
Sometimes, even pastors feel helpless and powerless. But when God is in your life, he has mighty power to help you. His power is bigger than anything you will face this year.
· God is preparing us for eternity.
When you really understand this truth, it’ll change everything about how you deal with difficulties. God is using everything in your life—the good, the bad, and the ugly—to prepare you for eternity.
Peter describes this so powerfully in 1 Peter 1:6-7, “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold” (NLT).
You will certainly have trials in 2021. You may have a more difficult year than 2020. But 1 Peter 1 reminds us that our trials are temporary. They will pass one day.
In the meantime, these trials will help you grow. They’ll test your faith—and strengthen it. You’ll be better because of them.