Peter moves from the ecstasy of the Christian’s new life in Christ to the present agony of their suffering. Ironically the very cause of their joy (new life in Christ) is also the reason they are facing such hardship. Peter writes that for the Christian gospel joy is greater than his suffering. How is that possible?
Joy is rooted in gospel truths.
In 1 Peter 1:6 the apostle links the Christian’s joy to the great truths found in their new life in Christ. Their joy remains in the midst of suffering because their joy is rooted in gospel truths. The best thing you can do when suffering is often reflect and regularly rehearse gospel truths. This does not make the suffering easy. It does not take away the pain. You may feel that you cannot suffer on or go any longer in your present suffering. It may feel unbearable now, but you must remember it’s not ultimately (1 Cor. 10:13).
What does Peter tell his readers about their trials? What must they know? The truths he writes about Christian suffering are just as needful in believer’s lives today.
Trials lasts for a little while.
Peter tells his readers that suffering lasts for a little while. Trials are temporary – even if they last a lifetime, that is still temporary for the Christian who has eternal life through the resurrected Jesus (1 Peter 1:3). This physical life is not permanent or eternal. Life with Christ is permanent. Trials are only for a season in the shadow lands of this earthly realm!
Trials are permitted when necessary.
Peter adds the words, “if necessary” (1 Peter 1:6) so that his readers understand they are not the victim of some hard stroke of luck or some bad squall of karma. God is sovereign all of the time and God is good all of the time. Christian, when you experience trials, you can be confident it will be only for a season, and only when it is necessary. In fact, God has always used trials in sanctifying purposes in his people. This was true for Israel (Deuteronomy 8:3), it was true for the Corinthians believers (2 Corinthians 1:3-4), it was true for believers in Rome (Romans 5:3), and it is true for Christians today (Hebrews 12:5-12).
Trials come in diverse ways.
Peter admits trials are grievous and that they come in various ways (1 Peter 1:6). However, just as diverse as trials may be so is God’s Grace. Trials are not the only feature of life that is varied. God’s grace is various too. Peter will later write in his letter about the varied grace of God.
1 Peter 4:10, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:”
Some trials concern finances, some concern health, some concern relationships. Trials come in diverse ways. But be encouraged, so does God’s grace! Therefore, the Christian has a joy rooted in the spiritual realities of the gospel. Because of Jesus the Christian possesses spiritual truths about suffering. Although suffering is grievous and comes in diverse ways, they are certain it will only be for a little while and only if necessary. Trust God with your suffering. Stop looking for your ultimate joy in circumstance. Look to a much better place — to the person of Jesus Christ.
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