And he gives us an idea of what those footsteps look like. We are told to live in harmony, be sympathetic, have a kind heart, not returning insult for insult but give a blessing instead. The ways of Christ.
Peter finishes with what he probably considers the most important parts. Be humble before God.
We know that Peter, occasionally, had his issues with humility. Who better to understand just how dangerous pride can be? So many times Peter tried to step out on his own power, even if they were times meant to be “For the Lord” and so many times did Peter stick his foot in his mouth or sink into the sea or resort to violence in a garden.
When we exalt ourselves in our time, we will have our reward. It will be cheap and paltry but it will be a reward. Peter wants us to know that it is in being humble in the face of God that lets him lift us up in His time, in His way. I think that even though we won’t say it publicly, all too often we really, in our hearts, believe that we know the best way for ourselves; we know when we should be lifted up, on our timetable.
That was just as true for Peter as it is for us today. Our nature is difficult to overcome under our own efforts. Impossible actually, even with the best of our intentions.
We are constantly under attack, constantly tempted to fill ourselves up with pride, to do things our own way because we believe them to be best and when we give in to it, we find ourselves consumed in it.
It’s why Peter begs us here as he begged us in the beginning of the letter to be ready, be prepared, be alert. Gird up the loins of your mind (That phrase never gets old). It may look as if everything is going perfectly in your life but that is the time to prepare, the time to tuck the hem of your robes into your belt and be ready to run the race.
Temptation comes to us all. Not if but when. How prepared will we be when it does?
One of the characteristics of our human nature is to think that when we get into these predicaments, when troubles befall us and when it seems that the evil sets up camp on all sides of us, that we are the only ones to ever experience such hardships. Our problems are ours and ours alone.
But they aren’t. Not really. Peter tells us that one of the ways we can stand firm in our faith against all that oppress us is to remember that we have sisters and brothers all over this world going through heartache and pain right along with us. We all go through this together. We are not alone in our troubles and our sufferings are shared by the entire body.
But we can take heart in the fact that though suffering is indeed a part of life, it is not the whole of life. We have the promise that hardships will not last forever, only a short time when compared to eternity.
This same God that we follow and has set forth his example for us will one day pull us, all of us, from hardships and will restore us, support us, strengthen us and establish us.
It’s why Peter is so confident to be able say to us that we should cast all our anxiety on God, even in the bleakest and darkest of times, because He cares for us. He cares for us. He always has and he always will.