There are roughly 300 billion emails sent worldwide every day. The average American worker spends nearly 30% of his/her workday on emails alone. I certainly see this in my life. My workday productivity, if I’m not paying attention, can easily disappear down an email black hole, never to be heard of again.
I made a conscious decision a few years ago to sign off my emails with “Grace and Peace,” imitating the salutation in Peter’s letter. Given the fact that I spend so much time emailing, it’s a wonderful way to remind my soul of the grace and peace that I have in Jesus.
The expression, combining both Greek (“grace”) and Jewish (“peace”) greetings, summarizes our foundation as Christians. “Grace” is the unmerited favor of God. “Peace” is the sense of wholeness and well-being we experience when we enter into a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. To put it another way, peace is the byproduct of truly encountering the amazing, life-changing power of Jesus’ grace.
One of the reasons my heart has latched onto Peter’s greeting is its somewhat unusual context. Listen to how he describes the circumstances of his recipients:
“You’ve had to suffer grief in all kinds of various trials” – 1 Peter 1:6.
“All kinds of various trials,” sounds like a tagline for a book about 2020, doesn’t it? Whether big or small, sudden or long-lasting, we can attest that adversity comes in all shapes and sizes on this broken planet. Further, it’s often not just one trial that threatens to rob us of our peace, it’s the combination of many trials at once. Health. Relational. Financial. Family. The list of challenges is varied and never-ending.
Realizing the recipients of his letter are in the thick of suffering, how can Peter greet them with “grace and peace?”
Peter isn’t being inconsiderate. Rather, he’s pointing them to the reality that it truly is possible to possess “grace and peace” in the middle of “all kinds of various trials.”
He isn’t just wishing a little dab of grace and peace upon his readers. Notice that Peter says “be yours in abundance.” The ESV translation says, “be multiplied to you.” Peter desires that they experience a multiplication of grace and peace for multiple trials.
For the abundance of trials in our lives, there is also an abundance of grace and peace. It doesn’t mean the trials instantly disappear. It means our trials will never outgrow the grace and peace available to us in Jesus Christ. It means that we can walk in grace and peace in the imperfect, unresolved, messy problems of life. I don’t know about you, but I need to be reminded of this truth over and over again.
So, allow me the liberty of signing off as if this is one of my emails during a stressful workday…
Grace & Peace.
Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director of RFTH