“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.”
In this you greatly rejoice
“In this” — the living hope (vv. 3-5) produces present joy. The joy of the believer rests in God’s grace. Joy is independent of circumstances because the Christian life transcends circumstances. The Christian has an eternal future. He will never lose this joy no matter what comes his way. True joy comes from eternal possessions. Peter rejoices in his possession in Christ Jesus.
“Rejoice” means to experience a state of great joy and gladness. The term often expresses exceeding verbal joy, to exult, rejoice greatly. It conveys the idea of jubilant exultation, spiritual gladness.
This joy often carries the idea of being overjoyed. In Mary’s song, she says, “My soul rejoices greatly because of God my Savior” (Lk 1:47). The Lord Jesus commanded His disciples to “be exceeding glad” (Mt 5:12). The Philippian jailor “rejoiced greatly” (Acts 16:34) after he came to Christ.
“Rejoice is mainly used to mean exulting in God’s acts (Rev. 19:7). We can anticipate exalting joy here and now by faith (Mt. 5:12). We will exalt with joy at the return of Christ (1 Pet. 4:13; Jude 24). Christ shares this joy (Heb. 1:9; Lk 10:21).
Most people experience grief and joy consecutively. It is one or the other, not both. If they experience joy, they cannot endure trial. If they endure trial, they cannot experience joy. Using a differing Greek word for joy, a godly Christian can have both trials and joy simultaneously:
“…I am exceedingly joyful in all my tribulation” (2 Cor. 7:4)
“…in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy” (2 Cor. 8:1,2).
“…longsuffering with joyfulness” (Col. 1:11).
“…in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thes 1:6)
The Christian can rejoice while suffering.
We all feel our problems are unique. Many people experience the very same problem, but they face it with a different attitude. It is possible to have joy and grief at the same time. What a blessed attitude to have toward pain!
It is possible to stand at the fresh grave of a Christian with a sense of joy.
When we lose the joy of our salvation, we also lose the thrill of the Christian life. Without the thrill, the enjoyment of our salvation grows dimmer as the years go by. That is what makes a nominal Christian.
Nothing stirs a nominal Christian. They have heard it all. They know it all. Their favorite hymn is “I shall not be moved!” They deem themselves spiritually sophisticated, yet they are not burdened for anyone. Compassion rolls off them like water off a duck’s back.
We forget what the Lord did for us at salvation. Do you remember your life before Christ? Have you lost the luster you first had when you received Christ?
Are you out of harmony with heaven? Have you stepped out of fellowship with the Lord? At one time, did you lead the pack? Stage a spiritual come-back.
God’s design is not that suffering hurt us, but that it blesses us with joy. God can take any trial and turn it into a blessing. There is no catastrophe too great for God. We will never face any suffering that is too great for us to bear or is too great for the plan of God.