1 Peter 1:6-9
Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations:…
In the previous verses the apostle describes the state of salvation; he then says here, "Wherein," etc. So the experience recorded here is the possible experience of the believer. Comp. ver. 5, "Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time," with ver. 9, "Receiving [now] the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls;" i.e. salvation is not a future matter only. We can receive the end of our faith now; heaven is only fully revealed hereafter, but it is already possessed. And here the apostle tells them how. Heaviness may minister to it; out of heaviness may grow such joys as shall be the salvation which is the goal of their hopes. Heaviness - joy - salvation; that's the order here. Sometimes when the sun is setting behind the hills, making the peaks glow like burnished gold, the beauty is repeated on the peaks opposite, eastern and western both aglow; but the valleys between are already in twilight or darkened with mist. That is an emblem of many a Christian life; the beginning and the end are radiant, but the years between are filled with shadows. Now, that need not be. The Light of the world is a sun which no more goes down, and when he has risen on our hearts henceforth east and west horizons, the summits of our history, but no less the broad plain, and every little glen and lowly place that comes between, may lie in the soft full glow of perpetual noon. The hindrance to this, we say, is the "heaviness through manifold trials," which will come; but, says Peter, there is a secret by which out of these may grow "joy unspeakable and full of glory." Not only notwithstanding these, but because of these, the believer's life may be a continuous chastened joy; and to have that is to anticipate heaven.
I. THE SAINTS' HEAVINESS THROUGH MANIFOLD TRIALS. The trials must be; they are part of the necessary discipline of sonship. If "man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward," more still is the new man. But for our help, then, consider:
1. The necessity for the heaviness. "If need be." Only "if need be;" that is assured by the paternal love of God. It is a witness to his love that, when trial cannot be avoided consistent with our good, he is willing to bear the pain of inflicting it. It does not follow that we can see the "need be;" it may be the needs be of preparation for some exceptional blessedness rather than that of chastisement. Perhaps the "need be" is implied in the text: "Ye are kept... through faith unto salvation;" but "ye are in heaviness... that the trial of your faith might be found," etc., equivalent to "we are kept in the state of salvation only through faith, and affliction is one of the means by which alone faith is maintained." The love of God, however, assures us that there is a needs be for the affliction which would satisfy even us could we see it.
2. The manner of the heaviness. "Manifold trials," and these like the "fire" of the refiner. God's trials are not all of one pattern, but are "afflictions sorted, anguish of all sizes." Loneliness, weakness, a nervous temperament, discordance in the home, responsibility, or duty, may be as real a trial to us, though no one detects it, as the more manifest sorrows of others. Does it burn? - that's the question; is it to the soul what fire is to the body - deep, searching, consuming pain? If so, it is the "heaviness" of the text, and may issue in joy unspeakable' And if it be fire, we know who presides at the crucible, who regulates the heat, and blows aside the blue flame to see if the dross be gone, and waits to see his face mirrored in the clear ]iqui0 metal. "He shall sit as a refiner," etc.
3. The duration of the heaviness. "Now for season." Only "for a season." If a continuous line from here to the sun, and beyond the sun as far again, and beyond that as far again, represent only a part of our immortal history, the season of suffering would be represented by the smallest point you can make on that line. "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is not worthy," etc. Presently we shall say -
"Now the crucible is breaking,
Faith its perfect seal is taking,
Like the gold in furnace tried.
Through the test of sharp distresses,
Those whom Heaven most richly blesses
For its joys are purified.
"Sighs and tears at last are over.
Breaking through its fleshly cover,
Soars the soul to light away.
Who while here below can measure
That deep sea of heavenly pleasure,
Spreading there so bright for aye?"
II. THE SAINTS' JOY GROWING OUT OF THIS HEAVINESS. Sorrow and joy at the same time! The believer ought to be "always rejoicing," and that is a puzzle to many. But there is great difference between always rejoicing and only rejoicing. The idea that the believer ought only to rejoice is as foolish as it is false. But it is possible always to rejoice - " as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." Here we have some of the grounds of this joy. They concern faith, hope, love.
1. Heaviness is said to be the proving of our faith. "Trial," equivalent to "trying, testing, proving." Is it not? Is it not just in darkness that our faith is tested? That gives a new aspect to heaviness. Heaviness is the time when we show what we are. Then we are being watched. Heaven and earth are gathered around us then, God and Satan looking on, and the Divine honor and joy are at stake. What a solemn, sublime moment that!
2. It is also said to be the enlargement of our hope. "That the trial of your faith might be found," etc. That carries our thought forward. Our present life is often unbearable because we live as though it were all In almost every other department we are cheered on through difficulty by hope. So in this. See what the angel of hope did for Paul on the wrecking ship, when all hope that they should be saved had been taken away: "Be of good cheer, fear not, thou must be brought before Caesar." Hope ever points to the blessed end, and whispers, "Be of good cheer." Moreover, the heaviness is going to minister to our enrichment then. We shall not only escape the storm, but be stronger because of it.
3. Heaviness is said to be the quickener of our love. "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though," etc. A kind of tender pity in the words, as though Peter said, "Oh that you had but seen him, and how you would have loved him!" The sentence is equivalent to "love to Christ imparts to heaviness an unspeakable joy." Does it not? This for the Lord's sake. By this, too, I get nearer to the Lord!
III. THE SAINTS' SALVATION IN THIS JOY. "Ye rejoice with joy... receiving the," etc.
1. Salvation is a mystery to be revealed in heaven. He has said that. "'Salvation ready to be revealed at the last time." However much is revealed of it here, "eye hath not seen, nor ear," etc.
2. But the unfolding of this mystery begins in Divine joys on earth. It is possible to anticipate heaven, to receive now the salvation of our souls, and heaviness may be the means to this. Then blessed heaviness! the storm may bring us to the very shore of eternal bliss, and though as yet we cannot land, its sacred chimes may be our music even now. - C.N.
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: