Dear Woodside... Hope In God

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10, ESV)

This afternoon I’m sitting in my office with a bit of a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I am firmly confident that we would prefer to tackle the issue of suffering within the laboratory of a Sunday morning worship service on a more theoretical playing field. You know what I am talking about; it’s easier to talk about suffering rather than to experience it. And yet, as we’ve seen over the last few weeks from our series in 1 Peter, trials are a tool that God uses to purify our faith and make us more like Christ. The theoretical will become practical for us at some point. This week it seems that suffering and trial been more practical for some at our campus than theoretical. As I’ve heard about job loss, death, cancer and sickness this week at our campus you can understand the lump in my throat and tears.

Yet, over the last month this concluding statement in Peter’s letter has deeply resonated with my heart regarding you for a few reasons. For one I’ve experienced, in part, the truth of this verse in my own life, particularly in the last year. But more so because the hope and future that is promised here is powerfully compelling. The joy and stability that are offered here are magnificently beautiful. Consider what Peter tells us about God’s grace in the midst of our sufferings.

First, Peter declares that he is the “God of all grace.” Every joy, good, mercy, and hope that we long for comes from God. Even in the midst of trials and sufferings God’s grace and lovingkindness is coming for us in those afflictions. As Isaiah spoke of Christ he described him as one who would not break a bruised reed nor extinguish a candle wick that has just a smoldering, smoking fire to it (Isaiah 42:3). He is the God of all grace who will not break and destroy his suffering children.

This is why the second half of the verse is so important. Because we feel the pain of suffering, of loss, and of affliction we stand on shaky feet. Some of us are doing well just trying to keep upright due to the affliction we are experiencing. Yet Peter points us to the restorative hope we have in Christ. The God of all grace is the one who HIMSELF will “restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” This is what we desperately need in our afflictions.

I know that some in our body this last week have felt the opposite of “restored, confirmed, strengthened, and established.” Because of what’s happened the feeling is more like “lost, denied, weak, and insecure.” I get those feelings. Yet the reality of this verse is that God is the one who bring restoration to what we’ve lost through our sufferings. He is the one who will confirm the calling and identify he’s given us. He will use our weaknesses to show his strengthen and in turn strengthen us for all glory. He is the one who will displace our insecurity and forever give us a name that cannot be taken from us. He will firmly establish us with him forever!

I want to encourage you today to take this verse to heart. Memorize it. Meditate on it often. Let the truth of it sink deeply down into your heart so that when the suffering and afflictions come you’ve got some hope to stand on. God’s grace is coming for you! Bank your hope on the God of all grace and allow him to show up for you in his kindness. Our best days are ahead in Christ.

Be Praying:

With that, I’d like to ask you be praying specifically for a couple at our campus who are walking through a deep valley of trial right now. 
Kelly Havrilla — Today I received a call from Kelly’s husband David that her last cancer scans revealed two new growths in her body that have to be treated. Kelly and David are praying about and pursuing options towards treatment but would deeply covet your prayers for wisdom and complete healing. Furthermore, they have asked that you pray that God would give them grace to be able to make decisions in a manner that displays the gospel of Christ. Would you please seek God’s face for grace to heal Kelly! 

This Sunday:

Sunday we will begin a new series in the Word together entitled U & I. We’ve all seen relationships of various kinds break down and crumble due to a variety of different problems. Recently our campus pastors got together and identified six things we felt were the top relationship destroyers. Over the next six weeks we hope to tackle them and show how the gospel gives us hope to repair and rebuild our relationships. This series isn’t just about marriage or dating or singleness. It encompasses every kind of human relationship we could have.

Here’s what we will be singing on Sunday morning:

  • Your Love Never Fails
  • Came To My Rescue
  • Place of Freedom
  • Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)
  • The Heart of Worship

We’ve placed a playlist on Spotify so you can listen beforehand as well.

I am praying that God continues to show you deep grace and upholds you deeply in the midst of trials and afflictions. I am so thankful, extremely thankful for this church and for your partnership with us in the gospel. It’s a privilege to serve you. Our best days are ahead in Christ! Trust him!

In Christ,