Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rejoicing Through Grief

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 1 Peter 1:6

Last week I was informed of the sudden and unexpected death of my father's identical twin brother. It was a particular shock because, to me, it had almost felt as though I had a spare dad in the background in case anything happened to my own. It also brought home to me the mortality of my own father as my uncle had seemed to be the healthier of the two. And so I have been experiencing grief.

You Greatly Rejoice
Peter says that despite grief, the believers to whom he was writing were rejoicing. Even more, they were rejoicing greatly. It is hard to see how two such contrasting emotions can exist together. Yet these Christians had found a way, not to suppress their grief, but to balance it with joy.

When Paul commanded the Philippians to, "rejoice in the Lord always," (Phil 4:4) he wasn't asking them to pretend that everything was wonderful when it wasn't. Pretending to be happy when you're feeling broken hearted won't help you, it will just delay the grieving process.So how do we do this? How do we balance grief and joy, accepting both as valid emotions? In 1 Pet 1:3-5 we see what it is that Peter's audience were rejoicing in - their salvation. Peter himself explodes into praise for new birth, for Christ's resurrection, for our coming perfect inheritance and the powerful protection we have from God.

Let me ask, have we lost the wonder of what it means to be saved and all the blessings which accrue from that? When was the last time you felt excited about all God's done for you? When did you last "greatly rejoice," in your salvation?

Prayer College Assignment
Spend some time praising God for as many aspects of salvation as you can think of. If that's a struggle pray with David, "restore to me the joy of your salvation," (Ps 51:12).

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