Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. — 1 Peter 4: 12–13
In Christ we can even rejoice and remain faithful in times of trial.
We are filled with consternation whenever we are confronted with illness, misfortune, or death. This is not unusual. After all, we are completely normal human beings who are sad and despondent when they suffer. Our Bible text does not mean that we should be happy because misfortune befalls us, but it does show us that we can rejoice in Christ even in suffering. We feel joy in Christ whenever we experience the nearness and love of Jesus.
Joy in Christ comes through the activity of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit teaches us to look beyond the suffering that affects us, such that we recognize it as a trial. Just as He did with Jesus, however, the Devil tries to take advantage of the situation in order to cause us to doubt in God and thereby lead us away from Him.
Joy in Christ
To rejoice in Christ we must know that we are the property of Christ in the first place. The frequency and intensity of our trials makes us aware of the treasure we possess. If we were not so rich, the thief would not expend so much energy and effort …
We can rejoice that we are loved by Christ. When Saul persecuted the early Christians in order to force them to deny Christ, the Lord showed His solidarity with them (Acts 9:4). The moment came when He intervened and put an end to Saul’s actions.
Jesus sympathizes with us
The Lord sympathizes with our suffering and sees to it that we are not tempted beyond our capacity (1 Corinthians 10: 13). Just as He did with Deacon Stephen, He shows His love to us even in the most difficult moments (Acts 7: 56).
Jesus makes it possible for us to overcome trials and temptations and to experience the joy of the overcomer. Thanks to His help we can remain faithful in following despite all tribulations, fears, and perils (Romans 8: 35, 37).
Hope for redemption
Hope for redemption is a source of joy. In Asia Minor Paul was confronted with dramatic circumstances that caused him to lose all hope, but God delivered him. Paul came to the conclusion that he could not trust in himself, but only “in God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8–10).
The future of the Christian faith in general and our Church in particular, seems in jeopardy at times. Some are already predicting the worst. It is quite legitimate for us to ask ourselves what measures we should take in order to deal with this situation; however, we place our trust in God. He who raises the dead will also deliver us!
And finally we can already today rejoice in a wonderful and glorious hope: soon the Lord will “transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body” (1 Peter 1: 8–9; Philippians 3: 21).
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the divine service held on Sunday, 24 January 2016, at Midrand Congregation.