Context. That’s the comfort Peter offers the “elect exiles of the dispersion” (1Peter 1:1). The big picture. That’s what Peter paints for those who are being slandered and are suffering for doing good (3:16-17). The end game. That’s what he directs their attention to knowing that inevitably they will encounter and be tested by a “fiery trial.” And in the right context . . . within reality’s big picture . . . given what awaits them at the end of the line, Peter can say, “Rejoice!” Rejoice now because you know you’ll rejoice then. When His glory is revealed.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christs sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. (1Peter 4:12-13 ESV)
Things weren’t getting any easier for these brothers and sisters. Though they were a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession (2:9), the world they were living in was growing increasingly anti-God . . . and thus, anti-God’s people. To be a Christian, to own the name of Christ, was to invite persecution. To live for the kingdom of heaven was to increasingly get out of sync with the ways of the world. As they looked ahead, the path only looked stormier. So Peter says, don’t just look ahead, but look way ahead . . . to when His glory is revealed.
The day is coming when faith will give way to sight. When He who is the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature” (Heb. 1:3) will appear. When Jesus the Lamb of God who bore our sin will return as Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who will bear us home. Whether that day comes through natural means, or whether we are of that privileged generation who will be caught up together with Him in the air, that day is coming when His glory is revealed.
And so, says Peter, it is possible to rejoice now insofar as you share in Christ’s suffering, because you know there will be a day when you will rejoice and be glad as you share in His glory revealed. A day when, like John on Patmos, we look upon “one like a Son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around His chest.” The hairs of His head, white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes, like a flame of fire. His feet, like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace. His voice, like the roar of many waters. His face, like the sun shining in full strength (Rev. 1:13-16). We shall behold Him when His glory is revealed.
And like John, we will fall at His feet. And we will feel the touch His hand upon us. And then we will know, know without any shadow of doubt, that it was worth it all.
Context . . . the big picture . . . the end game. It’s what helps us to keep on keepin’ on. Until that day when His glory is revealed.