Rejoicing Through Suffering
1 Peter 1:6-9
Truth Taught – We can endure present suffering and even rejoice as we wait for our salvation to be revealed
Peter reminds us that because of the New Birth, we have great joy because we presently have a living hope and an everlasting inheritance in the life to come.
At the same time, because we are Christians we will also have present suffering in this life.
So, let’s think through what Peter has already told us. In our present life right now as Christians we have New Birth, a Living Hope and Trials. It’s the very reason we are born again that we have trials. As God’s elect exiles we are brought into conflict with this world and the result is suffering and trials. As we currently endure trials, we also have a living hope at work within us. This hope, which is fueled by the Holy Spirit, is always pointing to the future and saying things like, you can endure this present suffering because you have a salvation that is being guarded until the day when Jesus returns.
The things that keep us going and cause our perseverance are our future salvation/inheritance and our love for Jesus Christ. Listen—the specific way we might suffer really doesn’t matter that much. We all suffer differently with different things and ways, but the things that keep us going in this life are the same for all Christians, namely, our love for Christ and our salvation that is ready and waiting for us.
1 Peter 1:3–9 (ESV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials
We are called to rejoice through our trials, and we can as we look forward to the salvation that God promises is waiting for us. Remember it is guarded in heaven. We long for salvation to be fully revealed. We long for the promises of God to be realized. As we do, we can endure trials with joy. This is not just a silly wishful thinking joy I’ve seen some people try to maintain but this is a founded joy. It’s a joy that comes to us as we believe the promises of God. Even though we have not experienced the fullness of salvation yet, we know it is coming because God tells us it is.
The living hope Peter told us about leads us to this true and lasting joy, and it is not possible for a trial to remove the joy that comes to us because of our living hope. This kind of hope leads us to joy. The rejoicing that Peter tells us about is not due to the fact that our trials have ended because the rejoicing has nothing to do with this current life. Whether in good times or hard times this rejoicing will not end because the thing we are rejoicing in has not changed.
Another reason for rejoicing is that whatever the situation is; whatever the trial looks like compared to eternity it’s not even a blip on the radar. At the same time, we do endure real and painful trials while in this life. Do you experience trials in this life? Peter reminds us that the suffering is just for a little while. That’s good to hear. Sometimes trials seem to last forever and seem to be more than we can bear. Beloved, stay focused on our future salvation and our eternal life with Christ, and we can rejoice through the trial instead of whining through the trial.
He also adds a little phrase to assure us that this trial is not random and without meaning. Do you see it in verse 6? if necessary
We can be assured that to get us where God wants us to be, there has to be suffering because it is necessary. Trials are on purpose to achieve in the believer endurance, perseverance, growth and maturity. We can rejoice because God is at work moving us to maturity and toward our final salvation.
7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The only reason Christians can rejoice in suffering is that we understand that our salvation is real. As we continue to believe while under immense pressure, our faith is proved to be genuine. Next to being insane, that’s the only explanation. Remember, it’s not the suffering itself we rejoice in but the end result that the suffering achieves in our lives.
James 1:2–4 (ESV)
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Where do we get real assurance that our faith is real? When we endure the trial and come out on the other end beat up some and maybe even a little bloody and worn but our faith is still intact. Low and behold we may have lost other things, but our faith still remains and it is even stronger than before. James tells us that these things make us perfect lacking nothing.
Peter captures the thrust of biblical truth like James does using the language of gold being refined through fire. After gold comes out of the refiner’s fire it has lost its impurities and is now closer to perfect and pure.
Isaiah 48:9–11 (ESV)
9 “For my name’s sake I defer my anger;
for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,
that I may not cut you off.
10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
for how should my name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another.
Remember, the trial does not make our faith genuine, but it is prove it to be real. Another amazing reason to rejoice is that not only is it proven to be real but what proved it real was that faith was demonstrated to be genuine while in the middle of the trial. God is glorified as others see your faith. His worth is shown as we cling to Him through it all.
Peter is not a health/wealth preacher, is he? He knows what suffering looks like; he has endured it. He knows what it’s like to come through it with a faith that shows itself as genuine.
Luke 22:31–32 (ESV)
31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Peter’s faith remained through his sifting process because Jesus prayed it would. In John 17 Jesus prays a very similar prayer for all God’s people. He prays that we would remain steadfast; he prays that truth would change us and make us stronger. Beloved, our faith remains because Jesus prays for us.
How does genuine faith endure suffering?
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Genuine faith endures because of an inheritance that is secure. Genuine faith endures because of a salvation ready to be revealed. Genuine faith endures because we are longing to see Jesus face to face.
Notice how Peter specifically points directly to Jesus as the means of an enduring faith. Jesus, not our inheritance, is the object of our love and affection. Jesus and not even our salvation is the focus of our love and affection.
Our faith sees the unseen Savior doesn’t it? I remember the first puritan book I ever read was titled, The True Christian’s Love to the Unseen Christ by Thomas Vincent. It was based on 1 Peter 1:8. Throughout the book he explains how vital it is that the professing believer love the unseen Christ.
Peter, of course, had seen Jesus. What he stresses is that there is a level of trust and faith that he could not attain but that all Christians after him could. We can by faith trust the written Word and receive blessings that Peter never knew.
Here’s an example:
John 20:26–29 (ESV)
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
We can also see the same type of thing in Hebrews:
Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)
11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Beloved, we can trust in a way that those who actually saw Jesus in the first century cannot. We believe in and trust Christ whom we have never seen because God has told us through the Word all about Him.
Faith accepts the revealed, written record in the Gospels and epistles.
As we see Christ through the eyes of faith in the Word of God revealed to us, we have a faith that endures trials of various kinds so at the end of the day we can rejoice in Christ because He is our treasure.
If someone ever asks you, can you explain how it is that you can rejoice in the middle of your suffering? You might be able to tell them a few things, but you cannot fully explain it because it is in a real sense supernatural.
rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,
The gospels are better than being there!
But how do we come to crave the preciousness of Christ and trust the reliability of Christ if we can’t see him? How do you love him and believe in him, if you can’t see him?
We see Him in another and more important way.
I think the answer to that question is that even though we don’t see him face to face with our physical eyes, we do see him in another way that is even more important
For example, in Romans 15:20–21, Paul described his mission to unreached peoples (who could never see Christ physically) like this: “I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named . . . but as it is written, ‘They who had no news of him shall see, and they who have not heard shall understand.'” In the preaching of the gospel Christ can be seen in a way that is more important than seeing him physically.
Hundreds of people in Jesus’ lifetime saw him physically and never really saw him. “Seeing they did not see,” Jesus said. There is a seeing that is infinitely more important than seeing with the eyes. In 2 Corinthians 4:6 Paul describes it like this: “The God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” There is a spiritual seeing in the heart of the glory of God in the face of Christ, and without it no one is saved.
How does this kind of seeing happen? It happens through the Word of God. When the gospel of Christ is preached, we can see Christ more clearly for who he really is than many could see in his own lifetime. If you read the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, with openness to Christ, you can see the true glory of Christ far more clearly than most of the people who knew him on earth could see him
The gospels are better than being there. You are taken into the inner circle of the apostolic band where you never could have gone. You go with him through Gethsemane and the trial and the crucifixion and the resurrection and the meetings after the resurrection. You hear whole sermons and long discourses—not in isolated snatches on hillsides but in rich God-inspired contexts that take you deeper than you ever could have gone as a perplexed peasant in Galilee. You see the whole range of his character and power which nobody on earth saw as fully as you can now see in the gospels: you see his freedom from anxiety with no place to lay his head, his courage in the face of opposition, his unanswerable wisdom, his honoring women, his tenderness with children, his compassion toward lepers, his meekness in suffering, his patience with Peter, his tears over Jerusalem, his blessing those who cursed him, his heart for the nations, his love for the glory of God, his simplicity and devotion, his power to still storms and heal the sick and multiply bread and cast out demons.
Peter understands that there is something more trustworthy than even being there.
2 Peter 1:16–21 (ESV)
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
What is the result of seeing Christ by faith?
9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
We learned today:
As We Long for Salvation We Can Rejoice Through Our Trials
As We Rejoice Through Trials Our Faith is Proved Genuine
Genuine Faith Sees the Unseen Savior
Are you anticipating with great excitement the salvation that’s ready to be revealed?
Are you rejoicing through trials waiting on Christ to be revealed? Are you seeing the unseen Savior?
Teaching 1 Peter by Angus MaCleay
1 Peter by Karen Jobes
1 Peter by David Helm
1 Peter by John MacArthur
1 Peter by Peter Davids
1 Peter by Wayne Grudem
1 Peter by Edmond Clowney
1 Peter John Piper
 1 Peter 1:7-8 John Piper