Confidence Without Fear
All children assume that they are safe, until they find out that some people hurt them. Such experiences light a fuse of fear which may continue to hold them back through their adult lives, further inflamed by other painful experiences. Peter's readers had bad experiences too. He addresses them as 'strangers in the world' and 'scattered' (1 Peter 1:1). They must have known the feeling of being despised. Suffering is mentioned 15 times - it is one of the themes of the letter. So, with personal experience of suffering, they were in danger of being paralysed by fear.
As our personal confidence in God’s provision and protection grows, we become more eager to please Him in the way we behave. And the more we practise righteous living, we grow in assurance that God (and other people) will approve of us. Obedience brings blessing (Deuteronomy 11:26-28). It is also a blessing to live without the accusation of a guilty conscience (Hebrews 10:22). But in a wicked world, the righteous will become targets for those who hate truth and God's light (Mark 13:13). When that happens, there is a special blessing from God as Jesus said in Matthew 5:11-12.
Peter now insists that fear must not be allowed to terrorise any disciple of Jesus. That is despite many of the Old Testament prophets living lonely lives and being derided, many meeting an untimely death (Luke 11:47-51). Peter is not promising freedom from suffering but freedom from fear before and during suffering. It is natural to be frightened of what will hurt us; it is Christlike to know that pain will come and not be deflected from God’s course (Hebrews 12:2-3). As the Apostle Paul experienced at his first trial, when all the believers had deserted him, the Lord stood at his side and gave him strength (2 Timothy 4:16-17).
Fear will always take us off course. Either we will be too terrified to move forwards in obedience to the Lord, or we will take a different path to avoid the pain we fear. Both ways take us away from the blessing that comes with obedience (1 Peter 3:6), and the blessing that comes with endurance (James 5:11). Whatever suffering you fear - God's blessing will outweigh the hurt of every attack; and you will grow in confidence as God honours those who honour Him (1 Samuel 2:30). There is business to be done for God (Acts 18:9-11), so you must reject the domination of Satan, the great fear-monger, by deciding to trust the Lord and live obediently for Him. It will start a quiet revolution in your life at home and in the workplace, as you stop cowering and grow in confidence that God will keep His promise and bless you.
© Dr Paul Adams