Sunday, February 10, 2008

Living Hope

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, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 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. Though you have not seen him you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. I Peter 1:3-9

The past few weeks have been difficult. Friends suffered heartache, I felt the acuity of my loneliness and work was emotionally draining. I was reading favorite passages and came upon verse 6 "In this you greatly rejoice...though you suffer trials of many kinds". Why is it so hard for me to rejoice during a difficult week? What allows us to rejoice in the midst of sadness and stress? What is the "IN THIS" that Peter is referring to?

Looking back a few verses I find answers. The first few verses of this passage are rich with reasons to rejoice.
God has great mercy! We do not get the punishment that our sins deserve!
New Birth is a result of his great mercy-not only are we not punished, but the record is wiped clean and we are given a new identity, a new way of interacting with the world!
Living Hope is a part of our new birth. Not only do we get a fresh start as Christ followers, we have a continued relationship, continual hope that is validated by the resurrection of Christ!
Eternal Inheritance is the second result of our new birth. It is an eternity of security and belonging. It is something that cannot be destroyed.
We are shielded by God's power until salvation is complete. God's power protecting us. WOW.
This is the source of our rejoicing. This is the TRUTH that transcends suffering.

My trials are small. I am blessed beyond belief and still I find it hard to rejoice. In the same way that fire purifies gold, trials have the purpose of proving our faith and bringing praise, glory and honor to God. I am ashamed that I can not rejoice when I have merely the smallest embers in my life.

In the past few weeks there has been much dissatisfaction. I was bemoaning singleness, my married friend was feeling like a stranger among friends and others are longing for children. While it is natural for us to want husbands, children etc, how much of our dissatisfaction is the enemy preying on our desires? As we label these circumstances "trials" how do we choose to rejoice? Do we choose to rejoice or just do we commiserate with each other and feed our dissatisfactions and longings?

I WANT Inexpressible Joy! I want to know Christ and rejoice in the reality of his provision for me! I do not know how to do this. Can I acknowledge the reality of loneliness and at the same time rejoice in God's provision for me? I am not sure exactly what that looks like.

Holy Spirit, May I be ever aware of your presence this week as I live in my world seeking to rejoice and bring honor to your name. May I rejoice instead of wallowing, may I praise instead of complaining. YOU are GOD. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you. You alone are worthy of praise!