Has someone treated you unfairly and you are holding onto anger and bitterness? OR You made a stand for Christ – only to be ridiculed and lost a relationship? OR Are you concerned about the future – how to stand – how to keep the joy of your faith when the trials do come your way?
1 Peter was written to Christians who were suffering or would be suffering…to remind them of the true grace of God and to encourage them to stand firm in it. One of the themes of the letter is joy.
Start by Focusing on the Joy
I don’t know about you, but when I experience trials I usually don’t focus on JOY but on myself (my hurt and anger) and “my opponent” (the one who had wronged me). I might even be holding a grudge or losing sleep as I dwell on the situation…
Peter opens his first letter by focusing on where they had first found joy. He knew they needed to look back…to remember what God had done for them, so they would be able to keep on rejoicing no matter what lay ahead
God’s Mercy and Power
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. This brings you great joy, although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. 1 Peter 3-6 net (emphasis mine)
We too can have great joy because God’s mercy and power is at work in our lives. His mercy causes us to be born again to a living hope and we have the promise of a heavenly inheritance that will never go away. God’s power is protecting us through our faith for a salvation that would be revealed in the last time.
Proven Faith Leads to Salvation of your Soul
Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold—gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away—and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. You have not seen him, but you love him. You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, because you are attaining the goal of your faith—the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:7-9 net (emphasis mine)
Trials do not mean we are outside God’s will. God’s protection does not mean we will not suffer difficult times. Trials allowed by God prove the genuineness of our faith. Loving and believing in Jesus through the trials will bring praise, glory and honor to Him. Joy is found in knowing that the outcome of our faith is not peace for today, but the salvation of our souls!
Joy not in trials but in God’s promises for now and eternity
Jesus had joy not in His trials, but what was waiting for Him beyond the trials. We too need to look past the suffering and finding our joy in the eternal things of God.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 (emphasis mine)
“Joy is a discipline of rejoicing, which begins with simply thinking over the things that God has done for us; the commitment that God has made to us, and the service that God renders to us. Joy begins with a disciplined habit of thinking of these things until one is freshly thrilled by them.” J. I. Packer
Joy comes when we seek to know God’s promises and dwell on them until we are thrilled by them.