Today, we will “Find Joy in Suffering”…
Please turn in your Bibles to 1 Peter 1:3-6…
“3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”
Today, we are going to talk about suffering… Remember that this is not our home… In our home in heaven, the Bible says there will be no more death, no more crying, no more pain (Rev. 21:4). But we are not home yet.
Jesus tells His disciples in John 16:33…
“33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus is telling them that they will experience suffering and sorrow/grief… Part of this is just a fact of life… life is difficult… loved ones die… we experience pain and sickness… we struggle to pay our bills and feed our family... we worry about the future.
Sometimes we suffer because of the bad choices we make… sin has consequences. We suffer in our relationships with our spouses, with our friends… Sin eats away at our marriages, our families, our jobs, our community, our health.
But sometimes we suffer for doing the right thing… we suffer because we live our lives in obedience to Jesus Christ and His word. We are mistreated, persecuted for our faith. Or we suffer because we are reminded of all the things we sacrificed… all the things we gave up… all the things we left behind when Jesus called to us and said, “Follow Me”.
Suffering is real, and everyone will experience suffering at various times in their lives here on earth. All of these examples of suffering are actual events from my own life. These are all struggles that I have personally been through… Some are things I’m struggling with right now.
But God is telling us through Peter’s letter that we can Find Joy in Suffering. Peter is also very familiar with suffering. Not only did he personally witness the suffering of Jesus, but he remembers the pain of personal failure when he denied Christ three times… and now, in verse 6 of his letter, he tells us…
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”
He tells us to “greatly rejoice”! But how do we find joy in suffering? Peter tells us how in these verses… No matter what we’re experiencing at the moment, we can greatly rejoice in three things:
1. LIVING HOPE… verse 3 tells us that God “in His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”… Because Jesus is alive… because He is no longer in the grave… death has been defeated… and God gives this life to us… when we thru faith accept the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus, then we are given new life. This is something that we can take great joy in! God’s great mercy has been given to us! Jesus is alive! And because Jesus is alive, we also have this living hope, that we too will experience resurrection into eternal life and will be with Him.
Romans 8:22-25 says it like this…
“22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
This is our living hope… our resurrection into eternal life… This is a promise that you can always count on… regardless of how difficult your struggles are right now.
2. INHERITANCE… Then in verse 4 of Peter’s letter, he says God is giving us “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.”
Do you understand what an inheritance is? When your grandparents die, they will probably leave property, or money, or furniture, or any number of things to their children… who will then pass on what they have accumulated on to their children, and so on. Some families have large estates to pass to their children as an inheritance… others may not have much at all.
So what is this inheritance that Peter is talking about? Remember from last week, we talked about how believers in Jesus Christ have been adopted into the family of God… He is now our Father, and heaven is our home. Let’s look again at Romans 8, but this time, let’s look at verses 16-17…
“16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
We are co-heirs with Christ! We are receiving as our inheritance the kingdom that the Father has given His Son, Jesus. My wife’s father owned land in America where he raised cattle. After he died, all of the land was left as an inheritance to her and her brother. They didn’t split it into 2 pieces and say, “OK, this is your piece and this is my piece.” They both own the whole thing… they are co-owners… they are co-heirs.
There is no such thing as greed, or even ownership in heaven… it ALL belongs to God! But we are all co-heirs with Christ… We share our inheritance with all of the rest of God’s sons and daughters… Together, we inherit the glorious riches of God’s kingdom!
3. SALVATION… And third, we can greatly rejoice in our salvation… Let’s look again at verse 5 from 1 Peter 1…
“5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”
If you are truly a believer in Jesus Christ, then you can be sure of your salvation! The One True Living God is more powerful than any other god… Even if all other gods, demons, and spirits joined together against the One True Living God, their combined power would still be as nothing in comparison… All authority and power belongs to God.
I am a father of 5 children… and I can promise you that if any of my children were ever in danger, I would do everything in my power to protect them. When someone you love is being attacked, you jump in to rescue them!
Let’s see what Jesus says in John 10:27-30…
“27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
If your faith is in Jesus Christ, and in Him alone… then the full power of the One True Living God… the full power of your Heavenly Father is protecting you from the enemy… Your salvation is safe in His hands! The salvation Peter is talking about is at the time of the final judgment… Let’s hear the words of Jesus in Matthew 25… (verses 31-34, 41, 46)
“31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”
“41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
“46 Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
If you belong to Jesus, then you have nothing to fear… this is worthy of great rejoicing! No matter how difficult my struggles might be, this is not my home… and my salvation is SAFE in Jesus’ hands!
Let’s look at our key verse, 1 Peter 1:6, again…
“6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”
I can greatly rejoice because of the LIVING HOPE that God has given me! I will one day experience resurrection into eternal life… because death has been defeated!
I can greatly rejoice because of the rich INHERITANCE waiting for me! After I have been resurrected into eternal life… I’m not going to be empty-handed… I’m not going to need my family to send me things after I die… I don’t need to take anything with me… The inheritance waiting for me in heaven is more than I could ever hope or dream for! I don’t want anything from this world!
And… I can greatly rejoice because I believe in Jesus… I believe that Jesus is the Son of God… that He was born of the virgin Mary… that He lived a perfect, sinless life… I believe that He willingly gave Himself as a sacrifice… paying the price for sin through the shedding of His blood… I believe He died, He was buried, and then He came to life again on the third day… I believe in Jesus… My faith is in Him alone to save me from God’s judgment and wrath. I can greatly rejoice because my SALVATION can never be taken from me… The resurrection and my promised inheritance are guaranteed because my SALVATION is also guaranteed due to my faith in Jesus Christ.
We can truly Find Joy in Suffering! We don’t take pleasure in the suffering itself. Going through a difficult trial, experiencing grief, heartache… those experiences are not fun. As human beings, our normal response to suffering is to avoid it. And yet, babies continue to be born… there is pain and suffering in being pregnant and in childbirth… but the joy of seeing your baby for the first time makes all the pain worth it. When we fix our eyes on what we receive at the end… it makes the suffering bearable… we can have the strength to persevere… to keep going no matter how difficult the struggle… because we fix our eyes on the joy that has been set in front of us.
Jesus is our example… Jesus knew that He was about to experience incredible suffering… and He told His disciples… “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Mark 14:34)… The Bible says that Jesus fell with His face to the ground and prayed… Luke 22:42-44…
“42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
Jesus was obedient to do His Father’s will… He didn’t run away from the suffering He knew was coming… He may have wanted to run away, but He chose to stay and to endure the cross. Why? Because He was able to Find Joy in Suffering… He was able to look beyond the suffering… He was able to see the joy that was set before Him… and it gave Him the strength to persevere.
Hebrews 12:1-4 says…
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Jesus is our example… He endured suffering because of the joy set before Him… We can also Find Joy in Suffering just like Jesus did… We look forward to the joy that is set before us… and that joy helps give us the strength to persevere.
If you are facing difficult trials today, I pray that this word encourages you… If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then you can have joy right now… fix your eyes on Jesus… let His promises sink deeply into your heart and mind… of the LIVING HOPE of the resurrection, your promised INHERITANCE, and your SALVATION that can never be taken away no matter how difficult your struggle might be right now. Don’t give up… continue to live in obedience to Jesus and His word.
If you are not a follower of Jesus… Will you surrender your life to Him this morning? Without Jesus, then there is no purpose for your struggles… and there will be no relief in death… We read earlier about how those who do not belong to Jesus will be cast away for eternal punishment with Satan and his demons. If you think that the pain and sorrow and troubles of THIS life are difficult, this is NOTHING compared to what’s ahead!
[INVITATION & PRAYER]