Our dear friends’ daughter was diagnosed with leukemia about six months before Catie. They came to the hospital, hugged us, prayed with us, explained what lay ahead, critiqued the doctors and nurses, and even showed us where the extra ice cream was hidden.
It was invaluable to be shown the way by someone who had walked this path before. For the early Christians facing persecution and suffering, the person who led the way was Peter.
Peter’s life contained many painful episodes: denial, rebuke, failure, missteps, and brash, regrettable comments. Yet Peter penned a bedrock passages on suffering in I Peter 1:6-7. This passage has been foundational for me, and I have tried to apply this wisdom many times.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
These two short verses provide clarity on four important issues. I’ll unpack one each day for the next four days.
The opening phrase is critical: “In this you greatly rejoice.” The words in this refer to our salvation, the topic that Peter addressed in the preceding verses. 1 Peter 1:3-4 says,
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, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you.
Comparing the downside of suffering with the upside of salvation provides a healthy perspective. When we look at our sufferings though the lens of our salvation, dark things look brighter. We do not rejoice because of our sufferings, but we can rejoice in our suffering because of God’s wonderful salvation – in this we greatly rejoice.
During the worst days, ask, how does this mess stack up against my magnificent salvation?
No matter how bad it is, those who have experienced the new birth that God provides through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, enjoy the amazing stability of being a part of God’s family.
No matter how bad it is, we have a living hope because Jesus has defeated death and is risen victoriously from the grave.
No matter how bad it is, we know that what awaits us is far greater than the pain we now endure. Our health may perish, our dreams may spoil, our relationships fade away, but our inheritance is secure.
Our salvation is the “ace of spades” that wins every time we play it. Because of our salvation, we can greatly rejoice, despite the painful problems that come our way.
Refueling in Flight Ministries, Inc