Learning to Rejoice in the Gospel
What do you find yourself rejoicing in these days? A good dinner? A nice glass of wine? Perhaps a beautiful sunset, waves crashing on the beach, a glorious view of Lake Tahoe, or a baby being born. What are the sorts of things that make your heart full of joy, full of awe or inspiration? Those are things you rejoice in.
We all rejoice in things; I would even argue we rejoice in things every day. We don’t often use the word “rejoice”, but it is a word the Bible uses often. In 1 Peter 1:6, we read “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials…” What is it that would make us rejoice even if we are grieved by various trials? I contend that we all have answers to this question, though they are not all proper things to rejoice in.
For some, when you-know-what hits the fan, they still rejoice in food and comfort and so they retreat to their favorite foods, hoping that the present sufferings or trials in their life will be alleviated while they eat. For others, alcohol is a quick solution to the trials of life – whether it be a bad day at work, an argument with a loved one, or a physical ailment. The things we find to rejoice in, to take solace from and find comfort in and which we attempt to regain happiness through, are endless. But, if we are Christians, what should we be rejoicing in during trials?
The gospel. The good news that God the Father, according to his great mercy toward us, has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:3). The glorious truth that we who trust in Christ have an inheritance coming from God, kept in heaven for us, which will not perish, diminish, or fade (1 Peter 1:4). The great promise that God saves, not man, and that he is guarding us through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time (1 Peter 1:5).
Rejoicing in the gospel is, sadly, not a natural thing to rejoice in. Why is this? It seems to me that there are at least two primary reasons. First, we don’t rejoice in the gospel because we can’t see the gospel. We can see food, alcohol, and loved ones. We can feel an immediate (and temporary!), physical sense of relief from trials when we take joy in these sorts of things. Secondly, we don’t rejoice in the gospel because we don’t believe it can possibly be as good as it claims to be. We believe Christ died for us and rose to give us new life; we’ve trusted Christ for salvation and submitted our lives to his Lordship; but oftentimes we sell ourselves short and don’t believe it to be as great as God claims it to be.
The gospel is something that you can rejoice in. More than this, it is the greatest source of joy for those who understand it most deeply, for those who receive the truth as the truth and who marinate in its implications.
If the gospel is true, and my life on earth is only the beginning rather than the whole point of my existence, then I can face trials with joy because I know God, I belong to Jesus, and I have eternity with him awaiting me.
If the gospel is true then all my sins have been forgiven, I’ve been made new, and I am free to live how I was created to live – in loving relationship with my Creator
If the gospel is true then nothing in this life can separate me from the love of God. I can face excruciating pain via physical illness; I can face horrible betrayal at the hands of family members; I can face my name being unjustly slandered and my reputation questioned; I can face anything because nothing can ever be evidence that God does not love me.
Do you see how glorious the gospel is, friend? Do you see God’s mercy and rejoice in his salvation? In this you rejoice! Consider the things you rejoice in on a daily basis, and confess to God the truth that that which is most worth rejoicing in – his great love and mercy, and his power to bring you to new life – is not what you spend your time rejoicing in. Ask him to change your heart, to change your desires and passions and mindset. And, rejoice in the gospel today.