The Blessed Joy of Suffering

“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, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9 ESV

Doesn’t affirmation make our heart sing? Most of us yearn for words that validate our hard work and make the difficulties of life purposeful.  We feel down in the dumps when we get criticized, humiliated or attacked.  The early persecuted church that Peter wrote to was rejoicing solely in the Lord for His affirmation in their suffering.  And they received more affirmation from Him through the pen of Peter.  The apostle was impressed in the strength of their faith despite the fierce trials they faced.  He was especially moved by the fact that they hadn’t seen Jesus the way he had…yet they still believed when their faith seemed futile.  The persecuted church was blessed for their great faith.

The blessing for their faith in Jesus was salvation, not only eternally but in the here and now. There is inexpressible joy found only in the Lord as our refuge.  The most agonizing trials can purge us from all the other things of the world that dilute our devotion and reliance on Christ alone.  It is in our weakest more desperate moments that we abide in our Savior and in His presence is fullness of joy (Ps 16:11).  “Salvation refers to believers’ constant, present deliverance from the penalty and power of sin—from its guilt (Rom 6:18; Eph1:7; Col2:13-14), condemnation (Rom 8:1), wrath (Rom5:9; 1Thess1:10), ignorance (Rom10:3; Gal4:8; 1Tim1:13), distress, confusion, hopelessness (1Cor15:7,1Pe1:3), and dominion (Rom 6:10-12).” John MacArthur goes on to say, “‘Receiving’ can literally be translated ‘presently receiving for your selves’ so that the idea is an immediate deliverance from the power of sin.  Ultimate salvation will further deliver us from the presence of sin.” When our hearts still faint in the constant battles, we can look forward to a full victory when salvation is realized in heaven.