A Strange Reason to Rejoice
August 20, 2016, 9:08 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , , ,

jump for joy

I Peter 1:6-7 “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:  that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

Doesn’t is seem a little strange to read a passage of Scripture that talks about rejoicing during trials?  Okay, I know that this is a message found several times in the Bible, but really when things are going great it is easy to rejoice but how about when life is falling apart?  For me, it is abnormal to my nature to rejoice when everything is goings in ways that I consider bad.  Guess what, this passage is even stranger that our first glance suggests.  Let’s look at the verse.  First look at “greatly rejoice”.  It comes from a Greek word, which is written in the present tense here and occurs 11 times in the New Testament, with three of those times in I Peter.  The correct translation would be something like “always jump for joy”.

I guess this leads to the question we are to ask “WHY?” especially considering some of the up and down experience that are a part of each person’s life.  Peter tells us in the verses at least three reasons we can jump for joy.  First, our experiences in this life are temporary.  Notice “though now for a SEASON”.  The things we deal with are limited, especially with eternity in view.  They are not permanent conditions.  They had a beginning and they will have an end.  Here’s the great news:  God is already at the end, just like He was at the beginning.  Nothing catches Him by surprise and nothing is out of His control.

Second, notice the phrase “if need be”.  There is a purpose in why we go through these experience.  We need them.  Perhaps John Piper has it right when he observed “this is God’s universal purpose for all Christian suffering: more contentment in God and less satisfaction in the world.”   Paul talked about knowing the “fellowship of His sufferings.   Charles Swindoll concluded “the path of obedience is often marked by times of suffering and loss.”  Peter knew first hand that when we go through things in life, we can be emptied of self-reliance and able to be filled with God and His strength.  Remember the encouragement to be filled (controlled) with (by) the Holy Spirit.  He is our strength but we can also respond to life in a Christ-like way when we have the Fruit of the Spirit.

Third, perhaps the greatest purpose is “that the trial of your faith . . . might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.  As Elisabeth Elliot observed, “we want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, a world God Himself visited to redeem. We receive his poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others”  That is a life that brings praise, honor, and glory to Jesus.  Joni Eareckson Tada, who knows something about being emptied of self through the event of life observed “the greatest good suffering can do for me is to increase my capacity for God.”

So, here is my final thought about these verses.  The word “heaviness” signifies physical or emotional pain or distress that brings extreme sadness into my life.  When Jesus questioned Peter about whether he truly loved Him after his three denials, Peter was grieved (the same Greek word).  He was heavy through the experience of his failure.  When Jesus experienced Gethsemane, a form of the same word, it demonstrates that human life is full of painful experiences.  Yet in both of these we see that sweetest victories came in the midst of great sufferings.  The distress comes in many various forms, some of which show the reality of our relationship with Christ.

How about you?  In the midst of your life today, what experiences are you facing?  Jump for joy because God is using them to show the reality of your relationship with Him and transforming you to be like Christ!  What you really believe is what you live.  What does your life say you believe?  Jump for joy!  God’s got this!


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