Today’s Advent reading is 1 Peter 1:3-9. (Click the link to open the passage in a new window).
What can defeat joy?
How about “suffering”?
One of Job’s “miserable comforters”, Bildad, tells Job that his suffering is due to his sin. If only he would get right with God, then he would have joy (Job 8). In Bildad’s theology, suffering is evidence of wickedness, and joy a sign of righteousness.
Yet Job suffers.
Peter has endured suffering too. And the Christians he writes to are also suffering. They feel grief (verse 6) as they suffer various trials.
So how do we endure this difficult journey through life?
Is our joy postponed? Is it contingent? Is it fragile?
Peter says that to experience salvation creates in us an “inexpressible and glorious joy” (verse 8).
Further, in light of Christ’s resurrection, their suffering, and our suffering, has acquired new meaning. We no longer experience our lives as a series of unfortunate events. Rather, these challenges are a means of refining us, that we will be prepared to glorify Jesus on the final day.
And just as Christ suffered for us on the cross, we now know his presence with us in our suffering (verse 5). We do not suffer alone, but we do so with God’s power, traveling together with God’s people.
Everyone experiences suffering. The difference Advent makes is that now, our suffering has a redemptive purpose. In light of our past salvation, and our future hope, and our present friendship with God, we may be enabled to have a defiant joy.
What does it look like to be emotionally hones about both the reality of suffering and our basis for great joy?
What reasons have you found to rejoice in the midst of difficult trials?
You are encouraged to share other reflections on these passages.
You can find this week’s Advent 2021 readings here: