“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion…”
So begins Peter’s first letter to the church embattled and scattered throughout the region we now know
as Turkey. He writes to the “elect” who have been chosen by God for salvation in Jesus Christ. Perhaps
today he would have written to “the believers who are dispersed about the Denver metro, quarantined
in your homes, unable to meet together for fellowship.”
What do you say to the early Christians and believers today who are ‘temporary residents’ (exiles) of a
world full of trouble, in our case, of pandemic? How do you encourage them? Peter starts this way: by
reminding us that we are in our current situation “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1
God’s foreknowledge is not just his knowledge of what is going to happen before it happens, though he
does know that. It is his loving purpose to determine what is going to happen for the good of his people
and for his glory. This is reflected in Acts 17:26-27, “he made from one man every nation of mankind to
live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling
place, that they should seek God in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet
he is actually not far from each one of us.” This means you are where you are and when you are because
of God’s sovereign and loving purposes.
It is helpful to consider in these days of pandemic that you are not dealing with this by accident, and you
are not dealing with this alone. God placed you here, and he is here with you. And he intends for you to
seek him and find his grace to be sufficient to get you through each day. He is “actually not far from
each one of us.”
Seeking the Lord with you,
Say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules
for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a
shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those
that are with young."; Isaiah 40:10-11
This passage comes somewhat unexpectedly on the heels of a very dire prophecy – that Judah will be
taken into captivity, and nothing will be left of the glory that was once the nation of Israel (Isaiah 39:5-
7). It is in the midst of this terrible forecast that a promise is given: that God will come to the rescue in
time. The God who rules in power will come as a gentle shepherd tending his flock, carrying them close
to his heart, leading the vulnerable to green pastures.
Does this sound like a fairy tale? But no, it is already happening! For the almighty God has come as a
shepherd to rescue his people. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the
sheep” said Jesus (John 10:11). The rescue is for you, believer.
COVID-19 has shaken the stock markets, closed schools and businesses and struck fear into the hearts of
many. Like Judah of old, the forecast appears grim. But think of this! You are beloved sheep that Jesus
came to rescue, and the rescue has already begun. Forgiven, accepted, loved by God - he will tend you
like a shepherd through the pandemic. He will carry you close to his heart. He will lead you, with all your
vulnerabilities and weakness, through the valley and into the green pastures of eternal glory.
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
For the Chief Shepherd,