A way to grasp the heartbeat of 1 Peter is by prayer. The following words are intended to do that around a prominent theme of the letter: dependance on God in the valley of suffering.
Forgive, O God! Forgive
the self-absorbed despair,
the wallowing in self-pity
of your people,
When we don’t get the family we want.
When diseases shorten lifespans we were never guaranteed.
When we lack opportunity to do the work we want,
or to live in the place we desire.
When our loss of wealth forces reliance on government safety-nets.
When we suffer neglect.
When we’re misunderstood.
We know our brothers and sisters elsewhere struggle
just to find food for the day. They must run from,
instead of receive charity from, their rulers.
They pay the highest price to follow you –
being machete’d, or raped, or starved,
Their homes are destroyed.
Their children are taken.
They have not the luxury to hope in this world.
And you care, you truly care about our smallest woes!
But teach us to grieve looking upward and outward,
not myopically inward.
So instead of complaint, we bring joyful thanksgiving.
We start with simple things – for shelter over our heads,
for transportation and jobs,
for a choice of what to eat each day, and an ability to savor it.
We thank you for bodies that are whole, and for the beauty of the earth,
for the company of family and friends who have not disowned us,
for the pleasure of music, and literature, and film, and sport.
Yet we know that there are better gifts than these…
I thank you for softening my heart instead of giving me over to folly!
I thank you for the pain that has sobered and humbled me!
I thank you for my poverty –
the abilities, the opportunities, the rights that I lack,
the possessions, connections, relations I’ve lost,
the knowledge that eludes me,
the sadness that pursues me –
These force me to come empty-handed to you
time and again
to buy white garments, salve, and gold from the fire.
I see my true need, O God,
and I bring no complaint, but only thanksgiving.