St. Peter says (1 Peter 1:3-5) that the people of the new birth are hopeful people who have an outstanding inheritance kept for them. The word translated “kept” occurs often in Scripture. In Jesus’s prayer for his followers in John 17, he uses it four times, asking God to keep his people safe. It is used in the wonderful story in John 2 of the wedding reception that ran out of wine. Jesus miraculously made more wine out of water, and the emcee at the reception said coyly, “You have kept the best till now.”
That is what God is doing: keeping the best for last—and the best is not meaningless distractions but pleasures forevermore. Think of a moment when your life was most full of joy: a wedding day, the birth of a child, your greatest triumph. In those moments your joy spilled over, was too much to contain; and yet all of earth’s best moments combined, for all of earth’s inhabitants, through all of earth’s years, are but a thimble-full of joy compared to the heavenly oceans of joy that await God’s people. To even begin to appreciate it, our souls must be radically enlarged.
We have this unimaginably rich inheritance waiting for us, and it is kept safe. It cannot be stolen, cannot be diminished, cannot be corrupted. But what good does that do us if we are not safe?
Let’s say you receive a letter from a law firm, informing you that some relative you only met once when you were a kid has left you 50 million dollars in his will. There are no other claimants. The inheritance is all yours and is perfectly safe. All you need to do is come to the law offices in Chicago, sign the papers, and the money will be transferred into your accounts.
So, you make the arrangements but on your way to receive your inheritance, you are sideswiped by a big rig, and killed. The inheritance was safe but you weren’t.
What about us? Are we safe on the way to our inheritance? The God whose mercy gives us hope is the same God who power provides us protection. Look at verse 5: “who through faith are shielded by God’s power.” A literal translation might go like this: “who, in the power of God are being guarded.” It is God’s power that surrounds us, shields us, guards us: his inviolable, impregnable, unassailable power.
But then, why do we suffer? Why are Christians in Egypt beheaded? Why are believers in China imprisoned? Why are the homes of Jesus’s followers in Nigeria burnt to the ground? Throw a dart at a map of the world, and you are almost as likely as not to hit a place where people are hurt, not in spite of the fact that they belong to God, but because they do. Where is the shield of God?
If God is protecting us, why did we get passed over for that promotion? Why do the cool kids at school ignore us or, worse, mock us because, “we’re religious”? Why, when we are trying to do the right thing, are we criticized and abandoned? Where is the shield of God?
We must understand: God’s protection does not rule out suffering. Suffering in this world is a given. Jesus told us: “In this world you will have trouble.” (When you recount his promises, don’t forget that one.) St. Peter, who wrote this letter, was himself persecuted, humiliated, tortured, and killed. But had you asked him, as he was led off to be crucified upside down on a Roman cross, he would have said, “Yes, I am safe in the hands of God.”
 Psalm 16:11
 John 16:33