Joy, Unspeakable Joy!

As I worked my way through my reading plan this morning, I was pretty aware of how distracted I was. A number of concerns . . . over a wide range of areas . . . that filled my mind and weighed down my heart. As I’m reading the written word, there’s kind of an on-going conversation happening with the Living Word. And then I get to 1Peter and start in on this letter. And Peter quickly encourages his readers that their various trials are, in fact, a testing ground . . . circumstance which proves the genuineness of their faith. A faith which loves Him whom we have not seen. Though we don’t see Him now, a faith which believes in Him still and, what’s more, produces joy, unspeakable joy.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 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. 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.     (1Peter 1:6-9 ESV)

It’s that phrase, you “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,” that grabs me. And it occurs to me that it might be a bit dumb to try and write on something that is inexpressible . . . to put a few thoughts down on something that is unspeakable . . . to try and communicate about something that is better felt than tell’t. But, let’s give it a try anyway . . .

That we can be grieved by various trials isn’t a surprise to anyone. No one is exempt . . . not even people of great faith. Yesterday the sermon pointed out that the first mention of tears shed in the Bible is by the great man of faith, Abraham, when he wept over the death of his beloved Sarah. In our Sunday School class we spent some time considering John the Baptist . . . cousin of Jesus . . . preparer of the way of the Lord . . . of those born of woman among the greatest (Matt 11:11) . . . and yet, he languished alone in Herod’s prison. No one is exempt from trials.

And maybe that’s why the joy that Peter talks about is inexpressible. Because, apart from faith, it makes no sense . . . because it comes from a place which is unseen, a place untethered to our circumstance . . . because its source is not found in the state of affairs around us, but in the Spirit of God who lives in us. When our trials cause us to run to the Rock . . . when our worries compel us to quiet ourselves before the Sovereign . . . there, at His feet, we marvel anew at such access . . . and are reminded of the price paid, the love shown, and the grace poured out to make open such access . . . and our concerns are trumped by our love for Him who first loved us . . . though now, we do not see Him. And in that faith fueled love there is a joy, an unspeakable joy.

It is a joy filled with glory. The glory of the living hope we have been born again into . . . that of “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1:3-4). It is the glory of interacting with the power of God guarding us through faith . . . the inner workings of our spirit with God’s abiding Spirit in our lives. It is the glory spilling into our lives through the abiding presence of the King of Glory . . . a glory which helps us put our here-and-now in the context of His promised there-and-then. It is an intangible glory . . . producing an unspeakable joy.

Praise God in the distractions . . . bless Him in our concerns . . . believe in Him . . . love Him . . . rejoice in Him . . . with joy, unspeakable joy.


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