How many times a day do you find yourself longing for something better; wishing that things would go back to the way they used be or wishing that your lot in life would change for the better? There’s a myriad of ways this kind of thing shows up in our lives.
The marriage goes on tilt, the kids rebel, the car breaks down, the finances don’t stretch, my political party doesn’t get ahead, the sickness gets worse, the family member dies, the friend betrays you or the church lets you down.
There’s a myriad of ways that discontentment shows up in our lives; sometimes it’s unholy discontentment (desire for a better spouse, jealousy over someone’s achievements, wishing you were someone else) and sometimes it’s holy discontentment (wishing a sickness would go away, longing for injustice to be dealt with, anger over evil).
Unholy discontentment needs to be confessed and repented of. But holy discontentment (not being satisfied with the things of this world and longing for heaven) is a very godly thing. Holy discontentment is a kind of homesickness that every believer experiences this side of heaven. To be homesick is to remember or to acknowledge a longing, a deep desire for the good old days or for better days.2
This is exactly where Peter envisions the “elect exiles of the dispersion” (1 Pet. 1:1) as he writes this letter; his audience is literally wrestling with what it means to be the objects of God’s affection (God’s chosen and adopted people) while simultaneously being seemingly abandoned to out-of-the-way places where suffering, hardship, loneliness and oppression marked their daily experience.3
Peter’s audience was simply homesick; they struggled with questions about how to live as God’s people in an ungodly culture under ungodly leadership, and they longed for things to be different, to be better, to go back to the glory days in the Promised Land.4
What causes you to be homesick? When do you find yourself dreaming about something better? What causes you to want things to go back to the way they used to be? What is it about your life that you wish would change for the better? What is your picture of heaven? How do you live with the tension of not having what you want right now? Look at what Peter says to the “chosen outsiders who are scattered” and homesick in 1 Peter 1:3 – 5.
1 PETER 1:3 – 5…
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.
#1: WE NEED TO RISE UP AND BLESS GOD WHEN WE ARE HOMESICK (V. 3)5
One of the hardest things to do when you are feeling homesick is to rise up and bless God. It feels easier to live in the realm of self-pity, doubt, despair, anger or depression when I begin to long for something better. But Peter, knowing that his audience is struggling under the weight of things not being as they should be, rises up and blesses God when he says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 3).
Let’s be honest here. Blessing God is not the first thing that rises out of our hearts when we face the pain and suffering this world brings. Complaining, grumbling, arguing, fighting, blaming, shaming and guilt tripping; these are the things that come out of our hearts and mouths when we experience the brokenness of the world that we live in.
I think this exactly why the apostle Peter begins by rising up and blessing God in the midst of feeling homesick. We really need to make a decided and determined effort to rise up and bless God in our prayers of praise before we go spouting off at the mouth with our laundry list of difficulties, sufferings and hardships.6
This is why the Israelites would offer these exact words in prayerful worship to our Heavenly Father eighteen times at three different periods of the day; they literally would recite the phrase “Blessed be thou O Lord” fifty-four times per day.6 This is what you call living your life in offense rather than living your life in defense against all that is unholy in this world. We need to rise up and bless God when we are homesick.
#2: WE NEED TO HOLD ONTO THE ANCHOR OF LIVING HOPE WHEN WE ARE HOMESICK (V. 3)7
It’s interesting to think about the things we anchor our hearts to when we feel alone and desperate for things to change. Money, fame, fortune, sex, accomplishments, power, control, security, comfort; these are just a few of the things that we anchor our hearts to when things get tough, when we begin to feel homesick.
Homesickness has a funny way of creating an appetite for something solid inside of us. When we realize that things in this world are not as they should be (not as we wish they would be) we hunger and thirst for something to satisfy our discomfort and our discontentment. We feed that appetite with things that we believe will make us feel better.
The unhinged nature of the world we live in forces us to evaluate what we anchor our souls to; what we feed ourselves upon to find some sense of security or some sense of hope. The apostle Peter knows that there is only one great hope that will satisfy the deep longing inside of us. This is why he reminds his readers that God, in Christ Jesus, is the only sustainable hope we have because “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” (v. 3).
The only sure and certain remedy for our homesickness is the resurrection of Jesus because in the power of the resurrection, God turns the exile’s homesick grief into a rock-solid hope that will stand the test of eternity.8
When you and I experience the grief that this broken world has to offer (broken families, broken economy, broken politics, etc.) the only thing that will keep us afloat on the windy seas of doubt, despair, anger, depression and helplessness is the resurrection of Jesus Christ; in God’s mercy the tomb is empty therefore we have an eternal hope that will never let us down. We need to hold onto the anchor of living hope when we are homesick.
#3: WE NEED TO REMEMBER OUR INDESCRIBABLE INHERITANCE WHEN WE ARE HOMESICK (V. 4)9
It’s hard to stay focused on something you can’t see when everything you can see looks really bad. When you look around you and all you can see in front of you is the ugly stuff of this world, it’s easy to get angry, depressed, fearful and full of doubt.
In those moments, I begin to long for a world where there is no more sickness, no more hatred, no more greed, no more abuse, no more sadness and no more sin. In those moments, I get homesick, I wonder where God is at in the midst of the ugliness and I struggle to focus on the good invisible things of heaven because the horrifying visible things of this earth are easier to see.
This is why the apostle Peter reminds his readers that we have “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (v. 4). Our hope is based upon the fact that our inheritance will never perish, never become defiled and will never fade into darkness; it cannot be destroyed or polluted, and it will never decay; this is the heaven that we look forward to.10
What does heaven look like? Sometimes we get duped into believing that heaven looks like the opposite of all that is wrong in this world. And while it is true that heaven is the opposite of all that is wrong in this world, it is so much more than that.
Heaven is more than the opposite of the brokenness of this world because heaven is wrapped up in the presence of our crucified, risen and returning Christ; Christ is our hope in the face of this destructive, polluted and decaying world because Christ is the perfect picture of what can never be destroyed, can never be polluted and can never decay.11
Our inheritance is Christ himself, not a better political system, not a better spouse, not a better family, not a better house, not a better job, not a better group of friends, not a better church, not a better anything other than Christ himself because only Christ will stand the test of eternity as the only one who will never be destroyed, never be polluted and never decay. We need to remember our indescribable inheritance when we are homesick.
#4: WE NEED TO TRUST IN GOD’S UNSHAKEABLE PROMISE WHEN WE ARE HOMESICK (V. 5)12
It’s hard to trust people when we survey the world of broken contracts around us. It’s very rare to find someone who says what they mean and means what they say. Integrity seems to be a lost virtue in this world of broken promises.
Politicians line their pockets with the gold of empty promises. Divorce courts are filled with the pain of unfulfilled promises. Our streets have been littered with the outcome of weak promises in the riots that keep erupting all over our country. Church leaders all over the world make promises that leave entire congregations in shambles.
Think about the power of a broken promise. A broken promise has the power to ruin a person’s day, if not ruin the entire week or their entire lives, depending on who broke the promise and to what extent it was broken.
Think about the effects of broken promises on your emotions, your relationships, your physical health, your daily habits and your energy levels. Broken promises are powerful little reminders that this world is not our home, and everything is not as it should be.
Everywhere you look there’s another broken promise leaving you wishing for a better world, feeling the emotions of homesickness. This is why the apostle Peter reminds his readers that they can rest securely, trusting that they “by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation [which is] ready to be revealed in the last time” (v. 5). What God has promised, rests secure; we have the assurance that God’s salvation over us will be protected into eternity.13
God’s promise is trustworthy because his promise is not based upon our performance it’s based upon the performance of the finished work of Christ who was crucified on the cross of Calvary for our lack of performance and he was raised again on the third day in victory over Satan, Sin and Death leaving us assured of the hope of heaven.
If you have trusted in Christ as your Savior, then you have “a sure and steadfast anchor of hope for the soul” (Heb. 6:19); you can rest assured that the Spirit of the living God is guarding you from within so that you may look forward to hearing these words in the presence of your Savior in Heaven: “well done my good and faithful servant, you may now enter” into your eternal home (Matt. 25:23). We need to trust in God’s unshakable promise when we are homesick.
So, I want to ask you these questions again. How many times a day do you find yourself longing for something better; wishing that things would go back to the way they used be or wishing that your lot in life would change for the better? What causes you to be homesick?
When do you find yourself daydreaming about a better life? What causes you to want things to go back to the way they used to be? What is it about your life that you wish would change? What is your picture of heaven? How do you live with the tension of not having what you want right now?
There’s a myriad of ways that this kind of homesickness shows up in our lives. The marriage goes on tilt, the kids rebel, the car breaks down, the finances don’t stretch, my political party doesn’t get ahead, the sickness gets worse, the family member dies, the friend betrays you or the church lets you down.
But here’s the good news: In the midst of the homesickness, you can find refuge, you can find strength and you can find hope at the foot of the bloody cross, in the doorway of the empty tomb, in light of eternity in heaven.
At the cross of Christ, in the power of the resurrection, with the light of eternity in front of you: you can rise up and bless God; you can hold onto the anchor of living hope; you can remember your indescribable inheritance and you can trust in God’s unshakable promise when you are homesick.
1 Unless otherwise specified, all Bible references in this paper are to the English Standard Version Bible, The New Classic Reference Edition (ESV) (Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, 2001).
2 David R. Helm, 1 and 2 Peter and Jude: Sharing Christ’s Sufferings (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, ESV Edition, 2008), 29.
4 Ibid., 30.
5 Ibid., 35.
6 Ibid., 30.
7 Ibid., 35.
8 Ibid., 31.
9 Ibid., 35.
10 Ibid., 32.
11 Ibid., 34.
12 Ibid., 35.