“It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant, wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesmen.” These are the words of Abigail Adams, wife of the second President of the United States, to her son.
The recipients of the Apostle Peter’s First Letter contended with great difficulties. They were pockets of churches in what is today modern Turkey. Many of them were planted by Jewish converts to Christianity that were exiled from Rome. They left neighbors, livelihoods, and the places of their youth, likely never to see them again.
The Apostle encourages these displaced people by reminding them that their physical situation illustrates their spiritual situation (1 Peter 1:1). Their home is not on earth, but in Heaven. Their ultimate values and practices are not those of their native land nor the land that they find themselves, but those of their heavenly kingdom.
Furthermore, the Apostle reminds them that they are being made holy by the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:2), especially amidst these trials and afflictions. The same Spirit that set them apart as God’s chosen is also transforming them through tragedy.
While we would never want to undermine the hardships faced by displaced people, we are all, in a sense, displaced from the norm we once knew. Our normal routines have been dramatically interrupted. However, “great necessities call out great virtues,” if we allow them to. The Holy Spirit often accomplishes his greatest work in our lives through the crucible of difficulty. “It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed.” In contending in such circumstances as our own, the Holy Spirit often achieves his greatest work in our lives.
I invite you to sit down. Take out a pad of paper and something to write with. Write down the hardships you are facing. Then, with God’s Word at your side, ask the Holy Spirit what he might want to teach you through these circumstances. Might the Lord like to use your circumstances to teach you patience? Joy? Gentleness? Forbearance? Self- Discipline? Might he want to uncover some idol in your life? Money? Respect? Affirmation?