Last week we said if we saw every negative situation in our lives as a means for God to work good in us, maybe we wouldn’t focus so much on manipulating our circumstances to feel better. Maybe, instead, we would begin to see our issues, trials and struggles as opportunities for God to do something transformational in our lives. Peter describes the reality of our position as believers in Jesus Christ. God’s mercy to us is great.
In Christ, we have a living hope that we, too, will be resurrected from the dead just as He was. Waiting for us is an endless, glorious inheritance with our Father in heaven. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Pet 1:3-5)
Peter makes an assumption about our response to this reality. He says that we rejoice in this. Do we? While rejoicing may include positive feelings, the New Testament often communicates that rejoicing is a choice about how we think about our lives (Phil 4:4). “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:6-7).
We must conclude then, that this “rejoicing” is less about feelings and more about faith. It is less about maintaining some perfect emotional state and more about a declaration: “My life is worth rejoicing over because of what God is doing for me right now. I am provided for. My future is secure. Nothing can change that. I am rejoicing!”
For the Christian believer, suffering always serves a purpose (James 1:2-4). Peter describes the benefit of these trials, which distress us but don’t prevent us from rejoicing: they test, purify, and prove our faith. When trials come, the believer makes a choice to continue to trust God, in and through the trial. God continues to provide. Our faith grows stronger.
In Romans we are exhorted, “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Rom 5:3-5)
Peter says that our faith provides an opportunity to participate in giving and receiving praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. When Christ returns and all come to understand the truth, He will receive honor as the true Lord and King, and our faith in Him will be fully vindicated.