Summary: We have hope even in trials because of Christ’s Resurrection and our future inheritance.
Today, we’re going to take a break from apologetics and look at some practical implications of our faith. Let’s read 1 Peter 1:6-7: “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
So Christians are commanded to rejoice in trials. This is easy to say, but very difficult to live out. When the rubber meets the road, what makes us different from those who don’t share our faith? What force is strong enough to help us remain joyful in hardship?
Peter gives us a twofold answer, the first part being in verse 3: we can rejoice because Jesus has given us hope through his Resurrection.
This truth is beautifully demonstrated in the earthly relationship between Peter and Jesus. Peter was not there at Jesus’ great hour of suffering. It was Peter who fell asleep when Jesus was praying fervently in the garden of Gethsemane. It was Peter who violently cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. It was Peter who denied Jesus three times and even cursed his Lord after promising to die for him hours earlier. And it was Peter who let discouragement seize him after the crucifixion and left to go fishing.
That’s when Jesus rose again. He came back when Peter was at the lowest point in his entire life, stricken with guilt after betraying his Savior. He came back when Peter needed a second chance, and he made him the shepherd of the church. In the years after, and especially as he wrote this epistle to the churches, I’m sure Peter reflected back on this moment. He remembered that, no matter how dark the circumstances, Jesus’ Resurrection always gives hope, just as it had given him hope on the actual morning that Jesus resurrected.
Jesus’ Resurrection was not unique simply because a dead man became alive again. Even Lazarus was raised from the dead. No, Jesus’ resurrection was unique because he conquered death and never died again, prompting us, like Paul, to say: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55) So no matter what we go through – sickness, death, pain, emotional turmoil, stress – we know that the Savior has overcome, and that he cares about our trials, too. That is an encouraging thought.
In verse 4, Peter tells us the second reason that we can rejoice in trials: because we have an inheritance waiting for us in heaven. This poses a relevant: what exactly is heaven?
Heaven is not a cloud with a bunch of naked babies playing harps. When I was younger, I had the misconception that, in heaven, we would be on our faces worshiping perpetually. While I couldn’t wait to fall on my face and worship God, I wondered if this would get boring. But my mental picture of heaven gave me a distorted view of this wonderful place. Heaven is where we can finally enjoy the fullness of a relationship with God and be in his presence. It is where we can do what we were created to do. God made every person for a special reason and a special purpose, and that does not end when you leave this earth. Just like we can glorify God on Earth by fulfilling the Great Commission, I believe we will continue to fulfill our purpose of glorifying God in heaven.
In fact, I believe (and this is just a theory) that the skills we learn here on earth will carry over into the new heaven and new earth. I’m a computer programmer, so maybe I’ll be programming in heaven. Who knows? Whether or not this is true, I cannot wait for the exciting possibilities in this wonderful place.
Whenever I’m going through something difficult and I think of the inheritance waiting for me in heaven (and for everyone who has believed in Jesus as their Lord and Savior), I get excited. I think of what brings me the most joy, and I know heaven is going to be so much more. We will have no sickness, no pain, and no death. Our bodies will be imperishable and undefiled. We will be completely free from sin and its terrible effects. We won’t get wrinkles from age. We will endlessly, always, and forevermore be in a perfect environment with a perfect body, worshipping and glorifying a perfect God.
So the next time you are going through a trial (which, for some of you, may be at this moment), remember the hope that we have through Christ’s Resurrection and our inheritance in heaven. And then take heart and be of good cheer, for our Savior has indeed overcome the world.