Thursday, October 4, 2018
1 Peter 1:6-9 So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him, you trust him; and even now you are filled with a glorious, inexpressible joy. Your reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.
Life is tough. Bad things happen, even to good people. Tragedies abound. The economy goes up and down. Our jobs may be threatened. Our families are stressed. Friends have forsaken us. Words we have said have been used against us. Our cars break down. Our houses flood. Our health fails. This world is bound by the demands of corruption that were imposed upon it when the human race chose sin over the sacred. Everything deteriorates towards destruction. It’s no wonder so many people are unhappy.
Today’s Scripture passage is vital to understanding how to survive in such a world. Our word for today is JOY. How is it possible to be truly glad, as Peter says?
It starts with definitions that clarify the distinction between happiness and joy. Happiness is an emotion that responds to positive input. When things go right, we are happy. When things go bad, we are sad. By contrast, joy isn’t an emotion. Joy can produce emotion, but joy is not emotion. Joy is the product of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ our Savior. Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. Joy is permanent, and not contingent upon circumstances.
Have you ever experienced inexpressible joy? It happens to me quite often. You can tell when I’m experiencing it by the uncontrollable tears streaming down my face. It happens most often when I’m thinking, speaking, or looking at the subject of salvation. Several weeks ago, I broke down during a worship service while we were singing the song, “My Jesus, I love Thee.” I was overwhelmed with an inexpressible joy that caused my mouth to stop working and my eyes to start pumping. I was filled with the joy of my salvation.
That is the context of Peter’s challenge to be truly glad. Go back and read yesterday’s post if you need to review. We find permanent joy in the permanence of our salvation, even though we may experience unhappiness because of the problems with our circumstances.
Unhappiness is caused by our focus on the condition of our circumstances, rather than on the condition of our heart. Peter tells us it’s necessary to go through the trials and troubles of life, so that God can test and strengthen our faith. The trials are tests of trust. The tough times are portals to praise. We do not praise Him for the trouble, but we praise Him that the trouble doesn’t change our salvation, but only strengthens our faith. That’s where joy is found. That’s how to be truly glad!
The joy that you will experience when you begin to praise Him for your salvation is not even the fullness of joy. Peter says there is more wonderful joy ahead. Every trial brings greater joy, until one day all trials will be gone, and we will experience the fullness of joy in the presence of our Lord.
The next time a circumstance robs you of happiness, remember that in Christ nothing can steal your joy. It just takes a change of perspective. Rise above your clouds, and be thrilled with the glory of the Son. He has saved you, and you are His forever.
Culture may change but it can’t change your position in Christ. Circumstances can change but they can’t change your identity in Christ. Christ is your constant. Rejoice – and let the joy of your salvation become inexpressible.