Summary: Foreigners in a Foreign Land Fighting for Joy in Life's Trials, part 3
Foreigners in a Foreign Land
Fighting for Joy in Life's Trials, part 3
We are in a series, “Foreigners in a Foreign Land,” from 1 Peter. Peter describes us as aliens, strangers who are in a place that is not our home. Everything he talks about in this epistle relates to us because we are chosen by God to be exiles living in a foreign land. Today we look at what God tells us about joy in the midst of trials. I planned to get through verses 6-9 but there was so much packed in here I would have to skip over so much to do so, I decided to cover just verses six and seven.
Big idea – We can have joy in the midst of suffering and grief when our hope is in God and his promises.
Finding Joy in Spite of Trials
Peter says 'in this you rejoice although you are grieved by various trials.' Their experience was that although they were grieved with various trials, they were rejoicing. 'In this you rejoice.' What is he referring to? It refers back to what he has said in vs. 3-5, we have experienced great mercy because God has caused us to be born again, God given us a living hope because of Christ's resurrection, we have an inheritance which is kept in heaven for us who are being guarded by God's power. So there is the ability to be joyful in God in being born again that sustains us, although we can be experiencing grief. There is also Gods present power for joy in the midst of grief because we have a living hope for an inheritance that God has for us and are presently being guarded by God. Suffering and grief actually has the ability to reinforce our hope (Rom 5:2-4) which in turn reinforces our joy in God.
Biblical joy is not a giddy emotional excitement we have when we get something new or when things go our way but rather is a deep satisfaction in God, that Jesus is enough for anything and everything life throws at us. It is finding our comfort in him because we know our hope is not in this life but the life to come. This passage calls us to pursue our joy in God in spite of grief, pain, and suffering. No one loves suffering. But don't let pain and suffering and distress, the stuff of life, rob you of your joy in God. Joy and grief seems incompatible. Your marriage is difficult, children are wayward, you have financial struggles, people have turned against you, and you are grieved, you are tired, you want to quit but Peter says to rejoice.
Trials Are a Normal Part of Life
Grief is brought on by various trials. Trials, which are the testing of our faith, is normal for God's people. They are God's gracious gift in our lives to strengthen our faith and hope (Rom 5:3-4) in God and not this life. Trials are temporary. He is comparing suffering and grief to eternity (2 Cor 4:7-18). Trials are under God's sovereign rule (3:17; 4:12,19) for his greater wise and good purpose. The best example is the death of his Son (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28). Trials cause grief, pain, and suffering. So does surgery.
The Divine Design of Trials
Trials are designed by God for our good, “so that” shows purpose. Trials are compared to gold that is refined by fire. Fire does not destroy gold, it purifies it. In the same way trials purify our faith. God so designs trials, various trials for various needs, to wean us off dependency to ourselves (2 Cor 1:8-9) and dependency on the comforts of this world. Trials are various because there are various spiritual flaws that God must remove to refine us, purify us so that we reflect his image. Joy is possible when we trust God the Father, who is all loving and all wise, to take his surgeons scalpel and perform heart surgery to remove the deadly shrapnel that is lodged in our hearts.
Take aways . . .
Pursue our joy in God
Suffering is normal part of following Jesus
Suffering weans me from depending on the wrong things