“In this you rejoice…Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory…”
1 Peter 1:6, 8
One of my favourite stories in the New Testament is blind Bartimateus. He cries out to Jesus to have mercy on him, and Jesus asks him what he wants done. Bartimaeus wants his sight recovered. Jesus then tells him “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” Mark says that immediately he recovered his sight but didn’t go his own way but “followed him along the way” (Mk 10:46-52).
Once, when I was reading this story to my children, I was struck by the first thing Bartimaeus saw when his eyes were opened. Living in a world of darkness, his first vision was…Jesus. I remember tears of joy with the thought that one day my eyes would close, and then they would open and I would see Jesus face to face.
Life is full of trials. We face relational challenges, financial pressures, vocational obstacles, and health crises. It is easy to want these pressures to be removed so we can have joy. But joy doesn’t come from circumstances of life being easy. Joy comes from seeing Jesus.
Christians live in the reality of grief and joy, always sorrowful yet ever rejoicing (2 Cor. 6:10). We greatly rejoice, even though for a little while we suffer various trials (1 Pe. 1:6). How is it that we can rejoice in a world filled with sorrow?
First, when Peter speaks about our rejoicing, it is not a command, but a statement of reality. We rejoice. Why? Because what God has spoken becomes a created reality. We will rejoice. God creates joy!
Second, we can rejoice in a world of sorrow because the way God brings joy is by his creative power of salvation. He causes us to be born again to a living hope. Jesus has been raised from the dead, securing our new life. And this new birth guarantees an inheritance for us – the salvation of our souls – which is being kept by God and it will never spoil nor fade.
When you know you are loved, kept, and protected by God, the trials of life don’t diminish joy but refine it. Stuff loses its value. Friendships falter. Systems and methods disappoint. But Jesus will never fail you.
Suddenly, the unshakeable hope of God’s love for you in Jesus is a great joy! There is a guarantee – we have a promise that one day we will see the Lover of our souls face to face.
Even now, we have the promise of salvation. So we can rejoice that seeing Him face to face is not some wish dream, but a secured future. The One who loves you beyond what words can express will look you in the eye and say, “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the JOY of your Master” (Matt. 25:21)
Until that day, we wait. Sorrowful because of sin. Joyful because of the realized promise that I am his and he is mine forevermore.
Waiting, longing, joyful,
Missional Action Prayer: Lord, life is full of trials and hardships, yet you have given me this great and precious promise – that I am yours and you are mine forever. Help me to live in light of the joy of the security of being your chosen, beloved child so that I might take this good news to others. Amen.