But God plans wonderful joy

1 Peter 1:3-6 Because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, now we live with great expectation . . . And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive his salvation . . . So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.

My heart is heavy. Six friends are going through severe health challenges. One died last week, and it’s hard to think of her husband and daughter having to face Mother’s Day when their grief is so fresh. Only one of these friends’ crises may be coronavirus (testing results not yet available). Three have conditions like Karis’s.

So when I read these verses this morning, they caught my attention. I re-read them several times. And then I thought of the joy I experienced on Karis’s birthday, subject of my last post. I think God graciously gave me a taste of the “wonderful joy ahead.” A gift. Not something I could manufacture inside myself.

Gift. That’s what’s going on in this chapter too, I think. It starts with a prayer, May God give you more and more grace and peace (verse 2). God gives out of his mercy (verse 3). God protects us by his power (verse 4). God told people in advance there would be great glory for Jesus after he walked through his suffering (verse 11).  Those who preach the Good News do so in the power of the Holy Spirit (verse 12). It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen (verse 12).

All gifts, personally chosen for us and sealed with his love. God the Father knew you and chose you long ago (verse 2). The Greek word translated “knew you” is prognosis. Isn’t that cool? It means something known in advance. God’s prognosis for each of us today, including each of my friends going through particularly severe trials, is wonderful joy!

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a gift for my grandson that I knew he would love. When I picked him up last Friday, I couldn’t help saying, “Caleb, I have a surprise for you at my house!” My joy in the gift was probably as great as his. So I can picture God the Father smiling as Peter wrote the words the Spirit put in his heart. There is wonderful joy ahead . . .

I was so involved with Caleb and his gift that I didn’t think of taking a picture! But here he is with his mom and baby sister Talita. Happy Mother’s Day, Valerie!

I’m glad Peter acknowledges the suffering, and that the trials we face require endurance. We don’t have to pretend everything is OK. We don’t have to paste on fake smiles as “proof” of our faith or our maturity. But he has let us in on his surprise plan for us: There is wonderful joy ahead!

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