Exceeding Joy Anyhow

By Rev. J. Loren Russell

1 Peter 4:12-13 NKJV ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” ‭‭‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Today is the third Sunday of Advent, the day we light the pink candle which represents joy. As we await the celebration of the birth of Christ, the pink candle is lit as a reminder that we are to rejoice with the multitude of angels who came to announce His birth. This joyful celebration prompts us to be ever joyful because of the precious gift the Lord has given us.

The apostle Peter wrote this letter of encouragement to his audience of mostly Gentile converts as they were encountering fiery trials for their belief in Christ. Peter tells them not to think it strange that they are experiencing these intense struggles. The trials were themselves evidence that they have become participants in the same suffering Christ endured.

Chapter 4 informs us that they stopped indulging in immoral and lustful behavior, feasting, drunkenness, wild partying, and idol worship of many kinds. That’s why they were being slandered by their former friends. But Peter says their suffering is the evidence that they are finished with sin and now walk as new creations in Christ. They were encouraged to live their lives as beacon lights for Christ through the physical suffering and slander they would have to endure for being Christians.

Peter tells them that it is not unusual that they are experiencing these fiery trials. True believers will always experience trials of one kind or another. Some, like Peter, would suffer the ultimate agony of martyrdom. In spite of, they were not only told to endure the trials, but be sincere and disciplined in their prayers while continuing to show deep love for each other, cheerfully sharing their homes and a meal to those in need, speaking as oracles of God, and using all their strength to help others wherever and whenever they could. Peter says that this is how they are to celebrate their joy in the Lord in spite of their suffering. They were to be glad and exceedingly joyful because their trials were the assurance that they were bringing glory to God, the same glory they would see when it is revealed to the world.

I might add, the Lord never ever leaves us on a lurch. He always has a way of blessing us despite our situation or circumstance, of bringing the best out of the worst. Like Peter’s audience, when there is a relationship with Christ, even our failures are a set up for a comeback.

These Gentile converts were not like the others who chose to continue in their sinful ways but chose to endure every kind of fiery trial. This led to them having exceeding joy anyhow. During this Advent season, I encourage you to do likewise because “weeping endures for the night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

Be Blessed!
Rev. J. Loren Russell is President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial Strategy & Consulting; an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx; and creator & host of “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM. Listen on Matters of Faith on Facebook LIVE.

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