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Reason for Rejoicing

What do you say to cheer someone up when they’re going through adversity?

“In this you greatly rejoice” (1 Peter 1:6) 

What do you say to cheer someone up when they’re going through adversity? “Hang in there, it couldn’t get any worse.” “It only hurts when you breathe.” “I know it’s unbearable but somebody out there has it worse than you do, probably.” 

Silliness aside, even well-intentioned, sincere, thoughtful efforts can fall short or ring hollow in the face of overwhelming distress. 

Peter, however, brings to bear the ultimate encouragement. He begins by saying “in this you greatly rejoice” (v. 6) and goes on to speak of rejoicing with “joy inexpressible and fully of glory” (v. 8). Such is the intensity of this joy that it dispels the darkness of despair and washes out any lesser light of encouragement. 

What is the “this” Peter refers to that triggers our joy? It is our inheritance in heaven. We may be weighed down with the adversity of the sojourner now but that is only temporary.  We may be homeless now but we have a permanent abode in heavenly glory. The inheritance of the firstborn is ours through Christ. It is kept for us and we for it. One day! 

Peter describes our trial-bearing struggles as being “for a little while.” It certainly doesn’t seem like a little while when we find ourselves in the thick of the trial, weighed down and suffering. On the contrary, it seems interminable, like it will never end. 

Peter wants us to grasp the shortness of the duration, encouraging us that there is an end in sight to faith. In fact, it is on that note he will close his letter: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (1 Pet. 5:10).

But in this call to joy, Peter is just getting started. He will move from calling us to greatly rejoice to a joy that we cannot even find words to describe.

REFLECTION: Grief and joy attach to two realities for us now. “Help me in my unbelief.” 

Unless noted otherwise, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and ten grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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