One of the hardest chants to be on the receiving end of at a football match is “you’re not singing anymore” It’s horrible to hear this when you’re team has gone from a winning position to being in a losing one. It’s so hard to listen to. “You only sing when you’re winning” is a fair enough description of how our lives play out in the day to day. We’re often at the mercy of our circumstances, our motivation to sing can be snatched from us by a deflected goal. Peter instructs first century Christians to ‘rejoice, though now for a little while you have been grieved by various trials.’ This is a call to sing and worship God at all times. So should we just put on a brave face and sing when we’re clearly losing? Should we grin and bear it in order to appear more spiritual?
No. Peter calls our attention to a victory that is assured. He says that we have a ‘living hope’ because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He points out that the final outcome of the cross guarantees a result for those who trust in it. “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable…” There is no sell by date or manufacturer’s warranty on the victory that was accomplished at the cross. It’s lasting. Peter says God’s people always have reason to sing because the victory is not in doubt and cannot be snatched from us by a last minute screamer from Ronaldo (sorry City fans.)
Peter didn’t always see it this way. He wanted to stop the cross at all costs. He tried to persuade Jesus not to go there. He cut off the ear of one of the mob who came to arrest Jesus. He denied even knowing Jesus. The thing that Peter once tried hardest to prevent became the thing that he gave his life to proclaim. There was a point in his life when Peter could see no sense at all in Jesus being nailed to a Roman Cross or lying dead in a tomb, it seemed like such a waste of potential. The resurrection changed everything.
Every buried hope and shattered dream we have, needs to be viewed in light of the cross. We face trials and hardship all the time as God’s people. Our province has been plunged into real despair by the tragic deaths of Noel, Graham and Nevin Spence – as well as the recent death of player, Brian Og Maguire. There are no easy answers or explanations to satisfy the huge questions that are raised by horrific circumstances such as these (or other personal disappointments we face that never make the headlines.) Our only hope is to look at the cross and pray that one day in God’s eternal plan we would see these situations differently than the way we see them now. That we would boast in God’s ability to overcome evil with good. That we would realise how we see things is flawed and limited in comparison to God’s perspective. The Bible gives airplay to a different version of events, and calls us to trust beyond what our eyes can see. Jesus death on the cross offers us an imperishable inheritance that will never fade. Victory is not in doubt. We can sing.