The movie Ready Player One imagines a near-future so bad that everyone living in it regularly escapes into a totally immersive virtual reality experience known as OASIS. Obviously, that word implies relief, parching one’s thirst in a dry land. But over the course of the film, young hero Wade Watts makes a startling discovery: The real world—dirty, difficult, dangerous and disappointing though it may be—is better than the virtual one where he’s spent much of his young adult life.
We don’t yet have an all-encompassing OASIS to dive virtually into. But digital distractions are omnipresent, with study after study chronicling the many hours we spend each day staring at various “black mirrors.” And you know what? Count me near the top of the list of those who grapple with that temptation. I’m a curious person. I like to know what’s going on. I can be easily distracted. My attention span ain’t what it used to be. And sometimes, real reality doesn’t seem as appealing as the virtual variety. In those moments, I can heed the siren call of technology to grant me a moment of escape, however fleeting it may be. That’s especially true if I’m grappling with a difficult issue in my life.
Our faith, in contrast, equips us to face reality—no matter how hard it may be—without flinching. To face it with hope. And to offer hope to others who struggle to cope with their difficulties.
In 1 Peter, the Apostle Peter writes to “those who are elect exiles of the Disperson.” That sounds really heady, but the reality that these believers faced was anything but. They were fleeing Roman persecution under the leadership of the bloodthirsty Emperor Nero. Another recent movie, Paul, Apostle of Christ, depicts the fiery fate of some: being used as human torches to light Rome’s streets.
Peter reminds those believers, “[God] 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). Armed with the security of such a hope, “you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials.” Peter’s faith enabled him to see suffering and trials—even the harshest of earthly realities—from the vantage point of the ultimate reality to come.
Most of us don’t face the prospect of martyrdom. But we do face other trials. Some may be obvious. Other struggles may be quietly hidden in our hearts, battles only we know about. It’s tempting to want to escape into a seemingly “better” reality. I’m thankful that our hope in Christ offers us another way: He gives us the courage to face each day with hope, believing that a better day is coming, no matter how hard this one seems.