I am going away on a retreat this weekend and I am so thankful for this opportunity to tend my soul. The retreat is based on 1 Peter so I have been meditating a lot on this book, reading and re-reading it, playing it on my phone, reading different versions – trying to soak in it as much as I can.
Meditating on it, I have been struck that the book of 1 Peter, written to the chosen ones who are dispersed, is perfect for us. We are women in exile – not just because this country is not our home, but because our home is not even in this world. We are far from home. And we feel it deep in our bones, don’t we?
My heart is very tender toward you, my dear expat reader. We know the joy that comes with this life overseas but we also know the grief. We’ve tasted salty tears and had trouble seeing through blurry eyes as we live life in transition, see our children struggle as TCKs, and as we lose friendships and home more than once. We miss our families and strong support from community we left behind. These days we feel we need respite, but COVID makes it hard to get.
And I don’t know about you, but life overseas has also exposed more of my limitations and weaknesses. It has triggered areas of struggle I didn’t know I had, and has revealed deep places where I need healing. And at times those limitations and weaknesses are all I can see.
This is where Peter comes alongside us with this letter. Peter himself was not in his own country when he wrote it. But he writes to us not just as an expat, but also as a witness of the sufferings of Christ and (especially this) as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed. Peter is a good shepherd. He knows what we need to see if we are going to tend our souls well so he points us to it.
First, we need to see the glorious work of the Triune God. Peter fixes the gaze of his readers on God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who before time began, knew them intimately and saved them through the blood of Christ. He talks to them about their Father who in his rich mercy made them alive, when once they didn’t really know what life in Christ was. He tells them about the Son – who not only died but rose from the dead – and in doing that accomplished something incredible: caused dead people to also live with him. He reminds them the Spirit has already made them holy. They needed to see the whole Trinity knowing them and loving them forever.
Second, we need to see the Savior if we are going to persevere through trials. Life in Christ includes suffering and it doesn’t feel like it’s for a little while. Suffering feels long…and when our hearts and minds are focused on our suffering we start to doubt if Christ will complete what he started. But Peter wants to look at Christ: not only His sufferings but also the glory that followed. This gives us deep hope because his life is the pattern of our life in him. We too, like him, will receive praise and glory and honor after our faith is tested.
Seeing Christ as the one who surely completes our salvation, knowing him as our living hope, is what fuels our joy through trials. The glory of Christ is so irresistible, that even though we cannot see him with our physical eyes, we can still see him with faith eyes and adore with joy everything Christ is…and that he is for us! He guarantees our full salvation, our faith’s victory.
Third, we need to see the unseen realities of the gospel. We are lovers of the gospel and because of that we love to share the good news of Christ with others. But friend, I am praying that as we seek to tend our souls, we would do it overwhelmed anew by the gospel and how much we need it daily. Because of Christ, we are known and loved deeply from eternity to eternity. Our sins are forgiven. We are no longer ignorant children, living in futility but ransomed women, who now have hope.
And that hope, sister, has a face because hope is a Person. Christ is our living hope for this life as well as the one to come. He has not left us to our own resources to be obedient children. He gave us his obedient life and is now living in us and through us.
May the Lord refresh and renew us as we look to our precious Savior. May all He is move us to worship, to rejoice and to hope in each circumstance we are in this season. We are not orphans in exile but daughters with a wonderful Shepherd taking us home to our Dad. And praise God, that Shepherd knows the way there so very well.
How can we pray for you to see your Savior as you care for your soul?