Juxtaposing Suffering and Joy

As I was contemplating a conversation last evening while studying my new favorite book this morning (1 Peter) I was going over the verses for tomorrow in one of the commentaries (vss. 3-9) and ran across this thought in verse 8.

Here is verse 8:

”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,”

Here’s the thought:

“Peter’s main point in the verse is clear. Believers who suffer are not dashed to the ground by their troubles. They love Jesus Christ and rejoice in him even though they have never seen him and do not see him now. Their lives are characterized by a hope that fills the present with love and joy.”

And this is how I prayed this morning, “That my life would be characterized by a hope that fills the present with love and joy.” (I like that word “fills”. That is quite cool.)

I think that gets at what I was inadequately trying to say last night: that as we talk about, work through, discuss with others our troubles, trials and sufferings that our words are surrounded by and impregnated with (or characterized by) “a hope that fills the present with love and joy.”

Peter is juxtaposing Suffering on one hand with a life that is characterized by a hope that fills the present with love and joy. Here’s the question: are my words (and my thoughts) so equally balanced? Do I weigh-in with more words about the suffering realities of my life? Or do I weigh-in with the suffering realities of my life AND equally (or more than equal) weigh-in with a heart that is full of hope that FILLS the present with love and joy?

This is how I want to be before God, my wife, my kids and my friends. I never want to shrink back from the painful realities of life, but I want my heart to be filled with hope, love and joy to the degree that it comes out and I’m characterized by it and others feel and experience it. Another way of getting at it is by asking this question: How am I characterized? Do I come across as a person weighed-down in present suffering or a person who is going through present sufferings, BUT is filled with hope, love and joy? The question is not will I suffer. We know the answer to that one. The question is how am I characterized as I suffer?

I’m aware that if I’m going to get to that place of overflowing hope, love and joy then I must “enter into the chamber” and see and talk with the Invisible One who gives such grace.

Thus, let’s let the hard work begin…off to the prayer chamber I go…

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