though now for a short time

The book of 1 Peter is a new favorite of mine. For years, I had virtually overlooked the thing in favor of the gospels, Acts, and the Pauline epistles. But two months ago, I started into a sermon series on 1 Peter, and as we’ve worked through it over the course of the last 10 weeks or so, I’ve gained a new appreciation for Peter’s first surviving letter, which was addressed to the believers of northern Asia Minor. You see, the believers of northern Asia Minor were very much like me. I mean, there were obvious differences, but they were in many ways typical for their culture, and their experience was typical for the believers of the first century. There was no government-sponsored persecution yet, but they endured ridicule, lost jobs, seized houses, local police action, mob persecution, and other such stuff. In other words, a large part of their experience was very nearly identical to my own. They were, as I have said on numerous occasions during our sermon series, everyday disciples living everyday life. Peter’s letter was intended to help them understand the things they needed to do and be in that life. And the first thing the apostle called them to do was to “praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:3). Despite the hardship. Now, Peter went on to describe three reasons why we should be able to praise God even in the midst of the no matter what’s of life, but as my sermon series and my word study cross paths, I want to focus on the two appearances of “rejoice” and one appearance of “joy” in this first chapter of 1 Peter.

You see, if I’m going to have joy even in the midst of the trials of life, this is a good place to start. Don’t believe me? Check out Peter’s words: “You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trails” (1:6).

So I’m supposed to be able to rejoice even in the midst of trouble and turmoil. The question is, what is the “this” that I’m rejoicing in? To answer that question, I have to back up to verse 5, where I read that, regardless of the trials I may be enduring, “You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” In other words, while it may be tough and costly – perhaps even deadly – now, God is providing me the ultimate protection: He’s protecting me to eternity. In other words, while I may hurt a little bit right now, in the long run, He’s still protecting me unto heaven. It will end well for me. I can rejoice in that.

And the second way that I can rejoice God, as revealed by Peter, is found in verses 8 and 9: “You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy” – that’s what I’m talking about! – “because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” Wait a second. I’m am receiving? As in, right now?

The Bible certainly talks a lot of eternal life, but something which has been striking me on a fairly regular basis over the last several years is that eternal life, to Jesus, was not something abstract or even future tense. It wasn’t something I was going to get, someday. It was always something I could – should – have right now. For instance, in John 10:10, Jesus reveals, “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” The eternal life Jesus designed for us is a here-and-now sort of thing! In fact, it wasn’t even really a flesh-and-blood sort of life at all! It was something more, something greater. Something better.

And Peter just announced that one major reason that I can and should rejoice is that I’m receiving that eternal life even now!

I should rejoice because I will someday be saved to heaven. That is not a mere possibility, but a divinely appointed certainty. And I should rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy because I can receive – indeed, am receiving – my salvation even now, and my salvation should be taking the form of a God-tuned, God-empowered, God-centered, God-enabled existence which, to be blunt, others simply can’t understand, much less obtain, on their own.

So I should take joy, even in the tough times, from the perspective that this is just temporary, and I’m already being saved!

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