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
The life of addiction is one of total despair. Enslaved to the drug, my first thought every morning and my last though every night was about my pills. The pills could never provide hope though. All the pills had to offer was immediate gratification which could never last. As the high wore off, the hopelessness set in. I’ve tried a thousand times to quit, and I can’t. I know it’s all going to come crashing down, but I can’t stop. Constantly worried about others discovering my terrible secret, I never enjoyed a moment of peace, except while using, which was a mocking, synthetic peace that quickly dissolved into misery. If it was so miserable, why didn’t you just quit? Because I was addicted. That is the despair of addiction – that no matter how awful it gets, you cannot stop. There’s simply no hope in the prison of addiction.
Except that there was a way out. If I was willing to end the old life and change everything, hope was accessible. Honestly, at times, the way out seemed worse than my addiction, which was why I avoided it for so long. There was hope though. In my addiction, I knew that if I confessed, went to treatment, abandoned my way, and followed Christ, that I could find freedom. It was something I remained unwilling to do until the consequences of my addiction took everything away from me. Only then, was I willing to embrace the hope that Jesus provided. Looking back now, it’s absurd that it took me so long, but that’s the pathologic thinking of the addict – I’m fine on my own.
In today’s passage, Peter spoke of our source of hope. He spoke of our trials and suggested that, in the grand scheme of eternity, our suffering will seem only like a little while. In following Christ, we may find restoration, confirmation, and strength. Peter didn’t promise that all Christians would experience health and wealth and that God would fix all our circumstances. He did say that in knowing Christ, we’d know hope, joy, and peace, despite our circumstances.
As Christians, this is what we celebrate at Christmas. At Christmas, we recognize the source of our joy, purpose, and meaning. We recognize that we’re not lost in despair, left alone, but that God once came to Earth as a man, restoring us to a right relationship with him, providing the hope we so desperately needed. And that is what we celebrate on this Christmas day.