Today we began reading the letters of Peter. He writes to “the elect exiles of the dispersion”. The heart of his message remains the same today, to “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (verse 13). “In this you rejoice”, he says, “though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 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 honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (verses 6,7).

His message is parallel to that of James; “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete …” (1:2-4).

How can we count being “grieved by various trials” as “all joy”? It goes against all normal human behaviour – but the committed followers of Christ go through a process of learning to see life on a higher level and aim to live “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

Therefore, with our hope fully set on “looking to Jesus” we endure the trials of this life, fully developing the attitude of “steadfastness” – sensing that we “have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23); feeding our minds on that word day after day, for, as Peter next wrote, “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever”.