“12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 (ESV)
Recite using the acronym:
B , D N B S A T F T W I C U Y T T Y , A T S S W H T Y. B R I S F A Y S C S , T Y M A R A B G W H G I R . 1 PETER 4:12-13
Read Full Passage HERE
Before the fall, we were in a right relationship with the Father. Being in the presence of God without sin meant experiencing the fullness of God’s eternal qualities, one of which being joy. Not only did we experience these qualities, but they were once the life that humanity breathed. When the fall of man occurred, this relationship was fractured. We could no longer be in the life-giving presence of our Creator without being consumed by it, leading to death. So we looked in all the wrong places to fill the void that was once filled by His presence alone, although such places never had the power to fulfill. Now, our experience of His character and attributes no longer take place to their fullest extent. We may experience joy, love, and peace, but these are only a foretaste of the true character of God.
Since we were no longer in right standing with the Father, our sin had to be atoned for in order to enter His presence once more. This atonement demanded a spotless sacrifice. Jesus’ sinless life, brutal death, and glorious resurrection are now the means by which we are reconciled to the Father. So now, by Jesus’ finished work on the cross and our trust in its power, we may once more enjoy the fulfillment of joy in it alone.
Over the years I’ve had the privilege of experiencing many short-term missions trips, and with them has come the privilege of experiencing a new found joy. I’ve seen a people with an unexplainable joy coexisting with a life of suffering that I had never witnessed before. There was a heavy weight of brokenness that found its way to inexpressible Joy. This begs the question; is true joy made in the suffering of life? Is the joy of the Christian merely sustainable in suffering, or is this fullness of joy PRODUCED by suffering? We have a sovereign Lord in heaven that knows the depths of our pain, but who also knows the depths of joy produced in that same pain. Christ holds the power to save you from eternal fiery suffering, but He doesn’t promise that you won’t experience the brokenness of humanity while here on earth. He actually promises us that we will. Suffering will come, but if we believe in His power, we are promised joy in the midst of it, that will ultimately lead to experiencing the fullness of joy…forever.
“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (ESV)
Although our joy has been fractured, Christ has given us a way to experience joy in depths that we couldn’t apart from Him. The deepest way to experience the depth of Christ is through suffering like Him, and through suffering like him, finding joy in Him. We have the privilege of suffering with Christ ultimately leading to new found depths of joy, found only in rejoicing in a God who shared our humanity, and with it our suffering. This means that the joy in our suffering is produced by the glory revealed through Christ’s suffering, and the glory that is to come. Not only do we rejoice in God’s glory yet to be revealed, but God’s glory is revealed when we rejoice. Ultimately allowing His children to experience joy in its fullness once again.
We feel the heavy weight of this world, but we thank you that you've carried this weight before us. Your suffering doesn’t discredit our suffering, but it covers it and it changes it. You are the author of our hope. Thank you for being steadfast with us despite our self inflicted suffering, and Lord, we ask for you to turn our suffering into steadfastness towards you, and with a hope that surpasses all understanding. We wait eagerly for the glory and the joy that is to be revealed. Give us the strength to not only endure this side of eternity, but to be fruitful vessels for you, ushering your victorious return, and our promised resurrection.