Over and over, the Bible reader cannot help but realize that within the pages of Scripture God is calling us to live counter-culturally. He is calling us to live and think in a way that often goes against what would come natural to us.
For instance, in my Bible reading this morning, I came across a passage that essentially tells us to be happy when life is hard. How crazy is that!
Yet, after seriously reflecting on the text, one cannot help but realize that this isn’t a flighty command. It is based upon substantive reasoning. There is a certain mindset that we can have that will enable us to see life’s trials in a whole new way – a way that can make us happy even when we are struggling.
Let me share that mindset with you…
If we open our Bibles to 1 Peter 1:3-5, we read that because of God’s amazing grace and Jesus’ resurrection, we have been saved. Because of this, while we live out our days on this earth, we have an inheritance that is beyond our wildest imagination awaiting our arrival in Heaven.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)
This amazing thought of our eternal reward was on the writer’s mind as he penned the next verse …
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,” (1 Peter 1:6)
This verse brings us down to reality. It speaks to us in terms that we can understand … and that is true to our experience. As we are so often hit with life’s difficulties, we are reminded that this present existence isn’t Heaven. We know what it is like to be “grieved by various trials.”
Yet, in this real-to-life verse, there is a gold nugget glistening in the sunlight! It tells us one reason that we can be happy when going through life’s trials. It points us back to verses 3-5 and says, “In this you rejoice!” The writer of Scripture is telling us that when life gets tough, don’t constantly stare at your problem – look to your Heavenly reward.
If we are running a race and we are quickly losing steam, the worst thing we can do is look at our feet. The race will seem to drag on and on and we will get discouraged and possibly quit. But, if we lift up our eyes and see the Finish Line, it is amazing how much more empowering that can be. We realize that soon the race will be over and we can rest so we are encouraged to continue giving our all for the next few moments.
The Christian is called to do this very thing. When life it difficult, look to the Finish Line with anticipation and great joy! Look to your eternal reward and realize that the difficulties of this life are only temporary. Soon enough, God will call us home, we can rest, and we will enjoy Him forever.
Now, we move to verse 7 where we see yet another reason to be happy when life gets tough…
“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.” (1 Peter 1:7)
Building on what he has said in the previous verses, Peter says that the difficulties of this life can create a wonderful opportunity for us.
Have you ever wished that God would send folks a Spiritual Birth Certificate when they get saved? It would sure simplify things, wouldn’t it? That Certificate would remove all doubt as to whether or not our faith is the real thing.
But, He doesn’t do that. He has created another way that we are to determine if our faith is a saving faith.
When life is easy, we can put on a show for ourselves and others. We can pretend to be saved. But, when life gets tough, things get real. We will act like who we really are.
We are just like a tube of toothpaste. When we get squeezed, what’s inside comes out.
Now, look at verse 8 to see some practical ways that we will behave when life gets tough if we are truly saved…
“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)
We see in this verse some of the knee-jerk behaviors that we will exemplify when life gets tough if we are truly on our way to Heaven.
- When life gets hard, do we continue to love Jesus? Or do we persistently question Him, or get angry at Him, or simply fail acknowledge Him?
- When life gets hard, do we continue to believe and trust in Jesus? Or do we persistently doubt His love for us, or doubt His ability to empower us through the trial, or simply not acknowledge Him?
- When life gets hard, does our faith in Jesus enable us to rejoice in Him? Or is He so irrelevant to us that thoughts of Him never bring happiness to our heart?
Friend, these are serious questions and worthy of reflection. God has graciously given us some insights that can enable us to determine if we truly saved or not. HINT: These self-discovery questions are best asked when we are going through a time of difficulty. Our answers will tend to be more honest.
If you are truly saved, you will discover in times of difficulty that Jesus becomes more real and relevant to you. You will love Him and trust Him. Of course, there will be times when you don’t respond this way. But, loving Him, and trusting Him, and being happy in Him will be the norm.
If you want to reflect more upon whether your faith is genuine (2 Corinthians 13:5), I want you to do the following:
- Pray and ask God to give you insight into your true spiritual condition.
- Find 1 John 5:13, in your Bible and read it. Realize that it tells you why the author (the Apostle John) wrote the letter we call 1 John.
- Then read (slowly and reflectively) the five chapters in 1 John. Reflect on how you measure up to the mindsets and behaviors that he says will be demonstrated by someone who is truly saved.
- If you discover that your current “faith” is not real, it’s not saving faith, then spend some time in prayer today and ask Jesus to forgive you of your sin as you consciously submit yourself to Him as your Lord, your Boss, who now runs your life (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)