2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! 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, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright (c)2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. http://www.esv.org
We may not give ourselves this label, but when the griefs and trials of life disrupt us, we become theologians. After all, to be a theologian is simply to seek answers to our questions about God. When life’s hardest seasons come, our questions for Him are usually “why” questions. “Why would You allow this?” Or perhaps, “Why me?” After some time, we may ask “how” questions. “How can I fix this?” Or if bitterness lingers, “How can I still believe that You are good and powerful?” Good theologians prayerfully seek answers to these kinds of questions in the Bible. But rarely does the Bible answer these kinds of questions in a way that immediately satisfies our painful wondering.
Surely these were the kinds of questions in the minds of the people to whom Peter wrote. Their lives felt chaotic because they were exiles, some of them literal “exiles of the dispersion” fleeing from Jerusalem because of growing persecution against Christians (1 Peter 1:1; cf. Acts 7:59-8:1). Disoriented and isolated, these young Christians struggled to make sense of their life and their faith in new and unfamiliar places. Jesus had charged Peter with tending and feeding these scared and scattered sheep (John 21:15-19). So how does he begin? He does not begin by answering “why” or “how” questions. He begins by answering the one question no one asked but everyone needed: “Who is God?” Peter reflects on God as a Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:2). And he celebrates that God knows and causes all things, including our salvation (1 Peter 1:2-3).
At first glace, Peter’s exploration of this “who” question seems wildly impractical, perhaps even insensitive. But Peter was not out of touch with their needs; he wasn’t simply educating these exiles. Rather, he was leveraging the truths of the Trinity and God’s sovereignty for a practical, pastoral purpose. These doctrines lay the foundation for seeing that life is never really chaotic, though it may feel like it at times. Even our griefs and trials work for our good and God’s glory (1 Peter 1:6-7). Where did Peter learn all this? He learned it at the feet of his shepherd, Jesus, whose last hours with His disciples were spent teaching them about the Trinity (John 14:1-16:33) and God’s sovereignty (John 17:1-26).
Many questions will rise within us in our sojourn through life, and God invites to ask Him each and every one. But as elect exiles, we also need to listen to the questions God has already answered for us. The medicine may seem strange at first, but there is no better food for us as His scared and scattered sheep.