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Finding Joyful Hope in Trials (1 Pet. 1:6-9)

Notes & Transcripts

Intro

Hope you all had a great week! We are going back into 1 Peter today. We are going to look at 1 Pet. 1:6-9 today. Peter has been encouraging persecuted and suffering Christians to have a hope that is living; how to keep growing, even when the going gets tough. After reminding them of their identity (1 Pet. 1:1-2) and how great their salvation is, namely, that they have a Father who birthed them, who infused them with living hope, who is keeping an inheritance for them and is also keeping them for that inheritance (1 Pet. 1:3-5), he now moves on to what that means for them in the present in 1 Pet. 1:6-9.

How does our great salvation help us live in the present day when our circumstances have caused us and is still causing us so much pain? What about my trials now Peter? He says our response for the now is joy. Notice three times joy is mentioned in our text today. It is a joy sandwich. What? Is that a misprint? Shouldn’t trouble diminish joy? He will say, no, in fact, trouble and trials can add to joy. It is not some kind of masochistic mustered up joy he is talking about. But joy found in salvation and found in God.

But how can we experience it, especially when I am cast down, discouraged and disappointed by the trials of life? These believers were struggling. It was a difficult time. It was a time where trials could easily rob them of their joy. What do believers in the midst of trials need to focus on to regain their joy?  The title of the message today is “How to find joyful hope in trials.” Three things here given for us in this text this morning. First of all:

I. We need to have perspective in our trials (v.6)

Before we get into the text, let’s define trials, so that we can be clear. A trial is a painful circumstance that has been allowed by God in the life of a believer to make us closer followers and better lovers of the Lord Jesus.  When I say “closer followers and better lovers” I am thinking of two things: our conduct (what we do) and our character (who we are).  God is all about making us more and more look like little Christs. Notice it is just for believers. Unbelievers’ trials are there to get their attention to turn from their sin to the Savior.

Now trials are different from consequences. Sometimes the lines are not perfectly clear, but a lot of times they are. James Macdonald uses this illustration: If you lost your job and you decided to rob a bank and you end up in prison that is not a trial that God has allowed. Don’t say, “God is refining me.” No, you broke the law. The way out of a consequence is repentance. A consequence you repent and turn from, but a trial you embrace and learn from.[1]

A trial is not something you brought into your life. You didn’t cause it and you didn’t choose it, but it happened to you and it was allowed by God.  We can probably do several messages on this, but for now, let’s look at what Peter says to us today in these verses. He says we need to have a proper perspective in trials. What kind of perspective? I have five things here. Jot the first down:

a)    Trials are opportunities not obstacles

Remember in Luke 15, we have three things that are lost: a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son. In each story, there is a common response: tremendous joy (Luke 15:7, 10, 22-24). Salvation and joy always goes together. Being made right with God causes joy: joy on the part of God, joy on the part of Christ, joy in the presence of angels, joy on the part of the people of God and joy on the part of the one who is saved.

This salvation joy is Peter’s theme here in verses 6-9. This is why he says “in this you rejoice.” In what? Well, in our great salvation, because salvation is what gives you joy! Rejoice in everything he has said from 1 Pet. 1:3-5, especially as you are experiencing trials. Trials are opportunities to experience true joy.

See the word “rejoice.” That is not a strong enough translation. It is an “intense, expressive term that means to be supremely and abundantly happy—a happiness that is not tentative nor based on circumstances or superficial feelings.”[2] It could be translated, “Be jubilant” or as Jesus says, “Be exceeding glad” (Matt. 5:12). It is MEGAJOY! It is more than happiness that comes from positive events or as someone said, “from happenings” and it is more than even mere emotionalism, but joy is a deep down confidence that you have based on having a positive relationship with God, that burning exhilarating thrill that is abiding and bubbling over because of what God has done for you in Jesus Christ.  It is a supernatural delight in God and the things of God. Though it is does not deny the reality of pain or suffering, it is nevertheless very real. It is a paradox and a mystery like Paul says that he is sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10). It is in the present tense, meaning, a continual joy! Remember Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). God wants that His joy for us!

If you are a believer, you would agree with me that there have been times you see God’s hand in a situation and you are like, “Wow, God did that!” That’s joy! Or looking up at the stars or at creation and you suddenly feel so small as your soul is eclipsed by who God is. That’s joy! Or if are singing a worship song and you sense His nearness and His tender love and compassion for you and your heart begins to be full of praise. Man, nothing beats that joy!

But Satan does not want us to tap into that. He wants to keep you looking at a past you cannot change and a future you cannot control to keep you from experiencing Jesus in the present and the joy He has for us. The enemy wants us to see trials as a stumbling block. Just fall down and die! But Peter is saying, “No, it is not a stumbling block! It is a stepping stone.” It is not an obstacle, but an opportunity. An opportunity for what? Well, several things which we will look at. But also to experience true joy.

This is because we are so easily pleased. We obsess over celebrities or technology or entertainment or materialism or money or a certain person. We hold on to those things with our dear lives. But when trials hit us, God pries open our hands and helps us let go of those things. He exposes our idols and shows us what we really need: Him! And we experience true joy because of it! So trials are an opportunity not an obstacle.

Secondly,

b)   Trials are temporary not forever

Notice Peter says, “though now for a little while.” It means literally, “for a season.” He sounds like Paul here. Rom. 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us.” Again in 2 Cor. 4:17, Paul calls them “momentary, light affliction” relative to the “eternal weight of glory.” When he says “light affliction,” he is referring to being stoned, beaten with rods multiple times and being whipped!

He is able to say that because he knows there is an expiration date on suffering. It is not forever, though it sometimes feel like its forever, but compared to eternity, this life and its troubles is not even a twinkling of an eye. Jon Courson says, “If you have to choose between a smooth flight with a crash landing, or a bumpy flight with a safe landing, you’ll no doubt opt for the bumpy flight. There are those who say, ‘I don’t want trials. I don’t want to go against the world’s system. I don’t want to deal with all of those church disciplines you talk about. I just want smooth sailing.’ They are fools, for although they might escape a bump or two presently, they’re ultimately headed for a fiery crash landing. On the other hand, those of us who presently deal with a bump or two along the way, will make a safe landing in heaven.”[3]Thirdly,

c)    Trials are purposeful and not random

Don’t skip over this key phrase “if necessary.” KJV says, “if need be.” Literally, “since it is necessary.” Look at other verses in 1 Pet. 3:17 and 4:19. It is a theme in 1 Peter that suffering is not random or something caused by the devil or fate, but allowed by God for a purpose. Well, what’s the purpose? We will look into that in a second, but here know that God notices and knows about the trial you are facing. It does not surprise him. He is ruling your life with His feet up. He is seated on the throne…not pacing around or biting his nails or wringing his hands. He is under control so even if the waters are over your head, it is still under His feet! Notice also the “so that” in 1 Pet. 1:7. There is a “so that” for your trial. There is somebody flying this plane! Fourthly,

d)   Trials are painful not imaginary

Look at the word “grieved.” It refers not only to physical pain, but also to mental anguish, including sadness, sorrow, disappointment, and anxiety.[4] Trials are painful. I say this because some Christians say we suffer because we lack faith. We are then supposed claim healing by faith and deny all negative thoughts. Others put on a mask and say “Praise the Lord” though they are hurting on the inside. Hey, Jesus wept! Peter does not deny that there is real pain in trials. There is freedom for me to express my pain. Asians are terrible at this! I hate it. It is hypocrisy. The church is not a museum, but a hospital. Deal with it. It gets messy and that’s ok.

Fifthly,

e)    Trials are multi-faceted not one-dimensional

Notice “various trials.” The Greek word rendered various is poikilos, which means “many colored.”[5] It comes in many colors, shapes and sizes. James uses the same word and almost same concept in James 1:2. There will be small trials and elephant size ones. There might be two day trials and twenty year ones. There might be simple ones and terribly complicated ones. There might be tough ones or tragic ones. It can affect any area: marital, family, financial, relationships, etc. So because it’s multi-faceted, it cannot be solved by a simple formula. A lot of times it will not make sense at all. What you see isn’t always what you get. By the way, don’t wish for someone else’s trial saying, “I wish I had her trial!” Doing so is to question God’s wisdom. Don’t get in between the hammer and the work on that one and focus on what God is doing in your trial.

Perspective is so important. The Grand Canyon can be so intimidating and daunting from the ground, but it looks like a small hole if you are on a plane 30,000 feet up in the air. You can choose from where you want to look at it. Peter is saying, “Reach out to the Lord. See this trial from His perspective.” In a crowded area Abbie will often reach out her hands for us to pick her up. Because from her view all she can see are belt buckles, floors and backsides. But when in her Father’s arms, she can see a lot clearer of where she is. We need a God’s-eye view, otherwise we will be choked by this world. It is a lot more joyful experience when we have God’s perspective! Peter is saying joy comes from proper perspective when caught in a trial!

Ok I know I need to have perspective in my trial, but why am I going through this again? Take note of this, we need to understand:

II. The purpose of trials is to refine our faith (v.7)

The verse begins with a “so that,” meaning purpose. What is the purpose of our trials? Peter says trials prove the genuineness of our faith. God tests the believer to reveal whether his or her faith is genuine. This is a tremendous benefit. If you went through life without any trials, never with any trouble and your faith was never tested, you wouldn’t know your faith was real. Really you can translate this phrase “tested genuineness of your faith” as “the tested residue of your faith.”

Peter uses an analogy to help us here. Gold was the most valuable and durable substance of the time. One commentator writes, “As gold is heated, impurities float to the top and can be skimmed off, leaving extremely valuable ‘pure gold.’ Yet gold is not eternal; like everything else on earth, it too will eventually perish. Genuine faith, on the other hand, is indestructible for all eternity.”[6] This is why our proven faith is more precious than the most precious commodity in the world.

God is not doing this for Himself. He is not like, “I wonder if Robin knows me? Let me put him to the test to find out.” And then He allows a trial in my life and the God says, “Oh wow. Didn’t expect that!” No, the testing is for ourselves. God already knows what is in our heart. The testing is for me. How will we receive confidence that our faith is real? That God will never let us go? That Jesus is everything He says He is and I can confidently move forward and trust His promises? It will happen in the crucible of trials.

The hotter the fire, the purer the gold. The hotter the fire, the more valuable the gold. God sits there as a goldsmith and allows these trials to fire-test our faith. Our selfishness starts to float to the top. Our self-serving attitudes skim off. Our sense of entitlement starts to wear off. We are humbled. Our pride starts to break. Our attachment to worldly things starts to loosen. The fire reveals what we really love. God draws out the impurities of my life to the surface through trial. But remember this goldsmith has us with one hand in the fire, the other one is on the thermostat. He will not burn us to ruin or pulverize us. His eye is also on the clock. And when is He done? Until He can look at this pure gold and see His reflection in it! So God’s purpose in trials is to refine your faith and that the proof of your faith may come to be more precious to you than anything else you might treasure above it.

God is so committed to purifying us! William Gurnall says, “God would not rub so hard if it were not to fetch out the dirt that is ingrained in our natures. God loves purity so well He had rather see a hole than a spot in His child’s garments.”[7] Ross Mars in Leadership Magazine says, “Take away my capacity for pain and you rob me of the possibility for joy. Take away my ability to fail and I would not know the meaning of success. Let me be immune to rejection and heartbreak and I could not know the glory of living.”[8] This is why Job says, “He knows the way that I take, so that when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).

Notice the last phrase. The testing of our faith is to result in “praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” God says if you hold on, if you embrace the trials, remain under the heat, God will give you His greatest commendation. The praise, glory and honor here is not talking about what God gets (which He does), but what we get. Wow! God wants to grant you praise and God wants to grant you glory and God wants to grant you honor when Jesus comes! Commentator Karen Jobes adds, “While their faithfulness to God may be why they are not receiving any praise, glory, or honor from their society, that same faithfulness will ultimately result in praise, glory, and honor when all is said and done. Therefore, the very experiences that cause them distress because they are Christians should also cause them joy because they are Christians. They rejoice with a joy that is beyond words and that has been glorified even by the dark circumstances in which they possess it.”[9]

It reminds me of the Parable of the Talents in Matt. 25:14-30. The faithful servants were commended by the Master who said, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21,23). Enter into God’s joy? Wow, I can make God rejoice! Even though we all understand that was all because of Him and His grace, I cannot even begin to imagine that He will commend me. And nothing in this world is greater than to please my God.

So trials are to be welcomed. Because no gold in the fire means no pure gold. No crushing of grapes, no wine. No cross, no crown. No thorns, no throne. No smooth seas, no skillful sailors. No rain, no rainbow. No irritation on the side of an oyster, no pearls.

Now the purpose of trials is to make you better, but if you resist the trial, you will not be better, not you will become bitter. I have seen this happen. We might be tempted to think that we automatically grow when trial comes our way. Heb. 12 is a great chapter on God disciplining His children. Interestingly in Heb. 12:11 he says, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (emphasis mine). This implies there is always the option that I am NOT trained by the discipline God has placed in my life. How does that happen? It happens when I resist what God is doing and I resist the trial. When I say “not now,” “not me” and “not this,” the fire might in fact hurt us then help us. You cannot experience the good God has for you in your trial until you submit to God and say, “not my will, but yours be done.” So am I willing not only to hear God’s answers, but also to embrace them? If you are not willing, you need to say that to the Lord. These difficult prayers need to be prayed. Until this is settled between you and the Lord, you cannot move forward.

Here is when we say, “it’s too hard” and we are tempted to quit. Peter says one last thing:

II.  God gives us power to endure trials (vv.8-9)

Peter now talks about the power we have to maintain under the strain of trials. Four areas where we can access strength:

a)  Power from sufficient grace

This is not directly from the text, but remember how I told you that the word “various” in “various trials” in 1 Pet. 1:6 refers to being “multi-colored” trials. Peter uses the same word in 1 Pet. 4:10 saying “varied grace” or “multi-colored grace.” I love it! So with each specific trial we can have specific grace! Isn’t that wonderful! You cannot go to God with any trial and say, “God this trial is a cerulean color! I don’t know if I can make it and if anyone’s heard of it!” and God says, “For that cerulean-colored trial, I have cerulean-colored grace!” Remember the definition of grace: power and motivation to do God’s will.

Listen to Annie Flint’s old hymn:

He gives more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sends more strength when the labors increase,
To added affliction He adds His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half-done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.

His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men,
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He gives and gives and gives again.[10]

b)   Power comes from an expanding love

Peter starts to talk about their present relationship with Christ. Notice, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him.” Peter, of course, had seen the Lord. His love for Jesus could bring pictures to mind: Jesus in Capernaum, being served supper by Peter’s mother-in-law, cured of her fever; Jesus on the sea, lifting Peter from the water—‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’; Jesus in the hall of the high priest, looking at Peter after his denials; Jesus on the cross; Jesus, alive again, sitting by the coals of a fire on the shore of the Lake of Galilee—‘Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?’[11] He had learned to love Jesus as He experienced Jesus’ love for Him. Yet Peter understood that most of the believers to whom he wrote had not known Jesus in the flesh. He commended their faith because they believed and loved without having seen the object of their faith.[12] He may be remembering what Jesus told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). It was a faithful love and a loving faith.

The verb “love” is in the present tense indicating a continual love for the Lord. Notice Peter does not talk about their trials or try to analyze anything or give them any answers. He simply says, “Keep loving Jesus faithfully.” Remember that even God does not give us answers in our trial, He always gives us Himself. This is why Paul called it the “fellowship of His sufferings” (Phil. 3:10) for being in that fellowship was helping Paul “know” (deep, intimate knowledge) the Savior. Do you know what is going to give you power in your trial? It will be sufficient grace and faithful love to your Lord.

I am not a fan of the show Barney and thankfully neither is Abbie. He kind of creeps me out, but there was an episode of Barney where the kids were celebrating his birthday. So all the kids were gathered and had their presents behind their back.

One child asked, “Barney, how old are you?” Barney said “I am 2 dinosaur years old.” To which one boy replied “that’s not very old.” Another perceptive girl said, “What is that in people’s age?” Barney said, “That’s over 2 million years old.” And all the kids said, “Wow!”

Then the kids said, “On our birthdays we measure ourselves to see how much we have grown. Measure yourself Barney!” and Barney stood by their measuring standard and he towered way above it.” Kids said, “Wow, we can’t measure him! He’s so tall!”

Then the kids said, “Barney, we wear the birthday crown on our birthday. We want you to wear it today.” Barney took it, but it was too small and didn’t fit, but all of a sudden bling! And instead of paper, it was decked with gold, rubies and emerald and it expanded to fit Barney’s head. The kids all looked and said, “Wow!”

Then one little girl overwhelmed by all of this, pushed through the crowd, she had a gift, but she dropped it and said, “Barney, we play with you every day and we didn’t know how awesome you are. What I brought you does not fit to give it to you and I’m ashamed to give it to you. Let me give you something that I love more than anything else. Here is my favorite teddy bear.” All the kids dropped the gifts that they brought to bring to Barney the thing they loved the most.

Beloved, we cannot measure the Lord. We cannot outgrow Him. In the midst of trials, I pray that we find out how precious He is. I pray we find out how awesome He is.  He is worth more than the leftovers we give Him. He’s the awesome God and we ought not make him the Lord of our leftovers, but give him the best we can give. I want to grow in loving Him. I want to find out that even if I had the tongues of angels, I could not praise Him enough or sing a song melodic enough. Even I had the most well crafted sermon, I could not preach a sermon worthy enough of who He is. It is the trials that help us see that we have all we need in Him! But let’s bring our best to Him even in the midst of our most back-breaking and heart-wrenching trials we might be facing!

Also,

c)    Power and joy from an abiding trust

The two qualities necessary for any relationship to thrive is love, but also trust. After encouraging his audience to expand in their love, Peter now commends them for their abiding continual faith, as they live not by sight, but by faith (2 Cor. 5:7). You cannot love Jesus without trusting Him and you cannot trust Jesus without loving Him. Trust and love says:

  1. Though I don’t have all the answers, I have God Himself. I believe He is never closer than when I am suffering.
  2. Though I cannot trace the Lord’s hand, I will trust His heart.
  3. I cannot experience all the good that God has for me until I embrace the trial. Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief!
  4. I need to stay submissive to God by believing prayer in my trials.
  5. I need to persevere through. 

He brings up joy again. He started with joy and now ends with it. It is a joy that cannot be described (notice “inexpressible”) with words because their focus is on Him and not on their circumstances. It is “filled with glory” meaning in their “love and commitment to Christ they experience a joy that partakes of and anticipates the joy of the final day of salvation.”[13] They are already tasting a little sample of joy that will be complete when Jesus comes! Lastly,

d)   Power in a present deliverance

This last phrase here in 1 Pet. 1:9 “obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” is not referring to the future, but the present deliverance they will have from the ravages of sin. Notice it is “obtaining” not “to obtain.” Salvation here means “deliverance.” One of the things that happen in trial are a myriad of things that come our way and fill our whole being or your entire person (that is why he uses “souls” here) like guilt, sin, distress, confusion, hopelessness and despair. Satan would want to lean on anything except for God and so we are tempted to fall into the delights, passions and pleasures of sin when we are under trial. But as we expand in our love and grow in our trust, we experience true joy the fills our soul, continually breaking us free from all those things that long for our attention.

Conclusion

I think the best illustration for these verses comes from Joni Eareckson Tada. One hot July afternoon in 1967, she dove into a shallow lake and fractured her spinal cord, leaving her as a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down, unable to use her hands or legs. She says, “Lying in my hospital bed, I tried desperately to make sense of the horrible turn of events. I begged friends to assist me in suicide. Slit my wrists, dump pills down my throat, anything to end my misery!”[14] Her friends wouldn’t do it. She says she realized that she was too helpless even to die on her own.[15]

She adds, “I had endured long surgeries to shave down the bony prominences on my back, and it was a long recovery. I had lost a great deal of weight. And for almost three weeks I was forced to lie facedown on what’s called a Stryker frame—a long, flat canvas sandwich where they put you faceup for three hours and then strap another piece of canvas on you and flip you facedown to lie there for another three hours.

Trapped facedown, staring at the floor hour after hour, my thoughts grew dark and hopeless. All I could think was, ‘Great, God. Way to go. I’m a brand-new Christian. This is the way you treat your new Christians? I’m young in the faith. I prayed for a closer walk with you. If this is your idea of an answer to prayer, I am never going to trust you with another prayer again. I can’t believe that I have to lie facedown and do nothing but count the tiles on the floor on this stupid torture rack. I hate my existence.’”[16]

One night, one of her closest friends, Cindy, blurted out, “Joni, you aren’t the only one. Jesus knows how you feel---why, he was paralyzed too.” Joni glared at her. “What? What are you talking about?” Cindy continued, “It’s true. Remember, he was nailed on a cross. His back was raw from beatings, and he must have yearned for a way to move to change positions, or shift his weight. But he couldn’t. He was paralyzed by the nails.”[17]

The thought intrigued Joni and God became incredibly close to her. She says, “I had no other identity but God, and gradually he became enough. The first months and years she was obsessed trying to find out what God was trying to teach her. Secretly, she hoped that by figuring out God’s ideas, she could learn her lesson and then He’d heal her. She went to the book of Job and strangely she could not find answers to the ‘Why’ tragedies anywhere in the book of Job. But Job clung to God regardless, and God rewarded Him. “Is that what God wants?” she wondered. Her focus changed from demanding an explanation from God to humbly depending on Him. “Okay, I am paralyzed. It’s terrible. I don’t like it. But can God use me, paralyzed? Can I, paralyzed, still worship God and love him? He began to teach me that I could.”[18]

After two years, Joni learned to maneuver a motorized wheelchair. She eventually got married. She received tons of support from friends and family. She learned how to drive and has her own van with customized controls. She can paint masterfully by holding the paintbrush in her teeth. Today, almost 43 years later, she speaks all around the world, started a ministry called Joni and friends, which ministers to people in the disability community. She still struggles, but like Paul, she is sorrowful, but always rejoicing (2 Cor. 6:10).

She adds, “Do you know who the truly handicapped people are? They are the ones—and many of them are Christians—who hear the alarm clock go off at 7:30 in the morning, throw back the covers, jump out of bed, take a quick shower, choke down breakfast, and zoom out the front door. They do all this on automatic pilot without stopping once to acknowledge their Creator, their great God who gives them life and strength each day. Christian, if you live that way, do you know that James 4:6 says God opposes you? “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”[19]

She says, “I have hope for the future now. The Bible speaks of our bodies being ‘glorified’ in heaven. In high school that always seemed a hazy, foreign concept to me. But I now realize that I will be healed. I haven’t been cheated out of being a complete person---I’m just going through a forty or fifty year delay, and God stays with me even through that. I now know the meaning of being ‘glorified.’ It’s the time, after my death here, when I’ll be on my feet dancing.[20]

And one day I’m going to leave this wheelchair behind. I cannot wait. I may have suffered with Christ on earth, but one day in heaven I’m going to reign with him. I may have tasted the pains of living on this planet, but one day I’m going to eat from the tree of life in the pleasure of heaven, and it’s all going to happen in the twinkling of an eye. The Lord’s overcoming of this world will be the lifting of the curtain on our five senses, and we shall see him and we shall be like him, and we shall see the whole universe in plain sight.

I think at first the shock of the joy that will come from reveling in the waterfall of love and pleasure that is the Trinity may burn with a brilliant newness of being glorified, but in the next instant we will be at peace. We will be drenched with delight. We will feel at home as though it were always this way, as though we were born for such a place— because we were!

For I sure hope I can bring this wheelchair to heaven. Now, I know that’s not theologically correct. But I hope to bring it and put it in a little corner of heaven, and then in my new, perfect, glorified body, standing on grateful glorified legs, I’ll stand next to my Savior, holding his nail-pierced hands. I’ll say, ‘Thank you, Jesus,’ and he will know that I mean it, because he knows me. He’ll recognize me from the fellowship we’re now sharing in his sufferings. And I will say, ‘Jesus, do you see that wheelchair? You were right when you said that in this world we would have trouble, because that thing was a lot of trouble. But the weaker I was in that thing, the harder I leaned on you. And the harder I leaned on you, the stronger I discovered you to be. It never would have happened had you not given me the bruising of the blessing of that wheelchair.’

Then the real ticker-tape parade of praise will begin. And all of earth will join in the party. And at that point Christ will open up our eyes to the great fountain of joy in his heart for us beyond all that we ever experienced on earth. And when we’re able to stop laughing and crying, the Lord Jesus really will wipe away our tears. I find it so poignant that finally at the point when I do have the use of my arms to wipe away my own tears, I won’t have to, because God will.”[21]

I am sure Joni has envied a lot of people for a lot of things in her life. But as I hear her story, I am so incredibly jealous of her relationship with Christ. And in God’s dictionary, I am sure next to 1 Pet. 1:6-9 there is a little footnote that says, “See Joni Eareckson Tada.”  I pray through the power of the Holy Spirit, He can say the same thing about us as well.


----

[1]MacDonald, James (33). When Life is Hard (2010). Chicago, IL: Moody.

[2]MacArthur, J. (41).

[3]Courson, J. (2545).

[4]MacArthur, J. (43).

[5]Ibid.

[6]Barton, B. B. (31).

[7]Water, M. (18).

[8]Marrs, Ross. Leadership, Vol. 3, no. 1. As quoted in www.preachingtoday.com  accessed 18 February 2010.

[9]Jobes, K. H. (95-96).

[10]Flint, Annie. “He giveth more grace” http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/h/g/hgmgrace.htm  accessed 19 February 2010.

[11]Clowney, E. P. (53-54).

[12]Barton, B. B. (33).

[13]Davids, P. H. (59).

[14] Tada,Joni Eareckson, “Victory through Suffering” http://powertochange.com/discover/faith/jeareckson/  accessed 20 February 2010. 

[15]As quoted in Phillip Yancey (1990), Where is God when it hurts? (131). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[16]Tada,Joni Eareckson, “Hope..the best of things” as found in John Piper and Justin Taylor (2006), eds. Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (192). Wheaton, IL: Crossway. 

[17]Yancey (134).

[18]Yancey (135).

[19]“Hope..the best of things” (195-96).

[20]Ibid. 

[21]Ibid (202-203).

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