In Habakkuk last Sunday we saw how he placed himself before God and rejoiced in spite of the calamity to come. We considered Jonathan Edward’s thoughts on joy—that while raw ‘emotions or passions‘ can be erratic and spontaneous, ‘affections of the heart‘ has the sense of deep conviction—peace anchored in God. The affections of the heart will be expressed emotionally but the emotion wont always be laughter!
Now we meet the same Habakkuk language in 1 Peter. The early Christians are about to be plunged into a series of persecutions (fiery ordeal) that would rage for some 300 years. Imagine belonging to Jesus and all you would ever know was to be a 2nd class citizen at best, at worst losing property and life.
Peter says soberly, ‘suffering is coming… but rejoice’. Once again, I believe this is not weird masochism but fine calibration of the heart compass, on the supremacy of God, and security in Him. And yet, Peter adds this dimension that Habukkuk couldn’t,
“inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ”
When a Christian suffers for being a follower of Christ, they are identifying with Jesus and the sufferings he endured when he entered the great conflict with the Satan and was rejected by the world. By doing so the Christian adds nothing to what Christ accomplished but expresses profound discipleship.
And then the language takes a twist,
“so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed”
The word ‘joy/rejoice’ at the beginning of the sentence is a totally different in Greek from the word we translate as ‘overjoyed’ at the end of the sentence. This ‘overjoyed’ word captures ecstatic emotions like laughter and dancing.
Therefore ‘joy’ in suffering is peace and assurance, the will, guided by the compass affections of the heart—but when Jesus is revealed it will be party time for the emotions! It will be unrestrained euphoria and fireworks. Peter says fiery ordeal now but fireworks when Jesus is revealed before the world as king, and us revealed in Him.
Peter adds one caviat… make sure your suffering is really because of your faith and not because of your foolishness. After-all to suffer for crimes now and be judged and punished by human courts will be nothing compared to falling under God’s judgement. Be careful household of God!
So suffering and joy? There are Christians suffering right now and they need our prayers. Follow these links below and pray for them, that they may wait patiently for the day when joy is turned to overjoyed!
peace and boldness,