I pray that the eyes of my heart may be enlightened that I may know the hope of His calling and what are the riches of His glorious inheritance. (Ephesians 1:18) I need HIM to reveal this to me, to remind me, daily. Hourly. This may be news to some of you but the riches of His glorious inheritance is NOT fully experienced in this life. Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, and my prayer for both myself and you is for us to understand our true calling as believers – it is the hope in the riches of eternity.

Peter begins his first letter this way, “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, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)

That is so powerful. Just pause and read that again. Right now.

He has caused us to be born again to a living hope, to an inheritance that is imperishable. He is speaking of that future portion of our salvation when sin is finally put away and we will experience that undefiled, unfading unity in Christ. There’s so much in these verses to unpack but first we need to expose a lie.

There is a lie, from the pit of hell that encourages us to hold fast to this life. It’s like a virus that can infect our soul. It promises us riches and happiness, health and wealth, peace and prosperity – that this is your best life now; that this life deserves to be fought for. We are taught, by the world, to do everything possible to hold on to NOW. You have cancer? Your job is to get rid of it; your number one concern should be to heal, to be cured. You deserve healing; it’s your right, your privilege, your purpose.

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You’re told that God doesn’t want you to be sick, it’s the work of the enemy. You’re offered everything your flesh desires; yet the Gospel calls sinners to deny self and flee the things of this world. The lie defines success as gaining all that your flesh desires, fulfilling your hopes and wants and dreams. The lie teaches you that you can change your life now; it’s void of God, void of the cross, void of Christ. It ignores eternity and gets you to focus on yourself, your life, and this world; being happy, fulfilled, successful, healthy, wealthy, and satisfied is called ‘purpose’.

If you truly are a child of God, this is NOT your best life now. Oh, we can have joy, love, peace, and even many pleasures, praise God. But, the longer I live, I’ve come to realize that if this life was what I was to put my hope in, I am lost! And understand, it sorrows me, as a doctor caring for cancer patients, many of whom are in the last months or weeks, or even days of their lives, to see professing Christians angry that God isn’t healing them. Oh, I know that grief runs deep but I thank GOD for the cancer in my body that reminds me of the fallen world in which I live, that drives my hope in the riches of the inheritance to come. Let’s just be clear, If my hope is in this life, there is no guarantee of my salvation. If I’m so distraught that God isn’t healing me, He’s not my God. My god is what I want.

This is a bitter pill to swallow but let us praise God for trials and struggles and disease and financial collapse and cancer. These things prove our faith in a culture of plenty where it’s easy to profess a love to a god that keeps us safe and blesses us with cars and jobs and vacations and everything we want. Try praying for pain; pray for a grave diagnosis if need be. Pray that God, in His great mercy, would rather walk you through the fire of suffering to purify you from the lie that you can be fulfilled without Him, than to leave you perish for eternity. Oh, the mercy of God does truly appear to be cruel to the unregenerate soul, yet to those being saved it is the glory of God.

Do you know what you should really want out of this life?

Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:6: “In this you rejoice (in the salvation he discussed in verses 1-5), 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 honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Praise God for testing and trials that serve as the bitter medicine to purge the soul.

James also writes, “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, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:3-4)

May we welcome trials and testing, suffering and persecution; may we pray for difficulties and hardships. Because, when we go through such things, though shaken and beaten by the storm, yet, standing strong in the faith that God is sovereign and our hope is in Him and eternity, we know that we are secure, held not by our ability to endure but by His love that keeps us safe unto salvation, to experience our calling – the riches of eternity.

Peter again says, “being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.” (1 Peter 1:13b-14) Peter infers that it is disobedient to be conformed to the passions of our former ignorance – that is, that ‘self’, ‘now’, temporal happiness, getting what I want, my selfish desires, on and on, are important. We once served these idols in ignorance. These are evidence of a self-centered, Godless life. Regardless of one’s verbal profession of faith in Christ, if not getting what I want disturbs me, it’s an idol and I am worshiping a false god! Repent!

And later, “12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (4:12-13) And, “19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”

Beloved, choose this day whom you will serve.

Dr. Kevin Conners