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Inexpressible Joy & Trials

An excerpt from a sermon on 1 Peter 1:3-9, given on April 16, 2023 to the People of New Creation Church (Anglican). By Fr. Justin Clemente.

You might have seen the recent movie Thirteen Lives by Ron Howard. It depicts the daring 2018 true life rescue of a soccer team in Thailand. After practice, the team decides to journey into a local cave on the occasion of the birthday of one of the boys. The massive cave soon floods, making their rescue all but impossible. After trying every other available means, world-class cave divers decide to take them out underwater through a two way six-hour dive while sedated. It’s an amazing feat. All twelve boys and their coach make it out alive.

Because of his size, the smallest boy on the team has to wait until all the other boys have gone. A special mask is ordered to fit over his small face. Now, he has seen every other boy go out before him, sedated, tied up, and shipped out under water like a piece of cargo. Each time one of the boys is taken out, the divers say to him, “This is so and so, he’s the number diver in the world!”

He’s been in the cave for about two and a half weeks. How does he respond when it’s his time to go? He jumps in line faster than you can blink. No hesitancy at all. Why? Because although he doesn’t know all the ins and outs of the route, he knows where he’s going and he knows who’s taking him there. He knows the promised destination and the trustworthy guide. He knows it will be for his freedom and good.

Friends, that is a picture of the Christian’s hope in this world, in the midst of trials, on the way to the Kingdom of God. And it’s all because of the Resurrection of Jesus. What does Peter say of the Christian here?

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.

1 Peter 1:8-9

That boy’s rescue is just a small and dim reflection of the Christian’s capital “J” Joy.

In verses 8-9, Peter assumes that the exiled believers he writes to have an inexpressible joy in the present. In the midst of the trials. He doesn’t have to exhort them to have joy, he assumes they have it. Although they have never yet laid eyes on Jesus, they have his new life coursing through them and will one day share in it full.

We are going through a time when it would be easy to lose joy. Let it be the sure hope you have in Christ that buoys you up in this time of transition and change. Allow the Lord to guide you – keep your eyes on him! Let be him who sustains your life, your service, your worship in the body of Christ.

When you get discouraged about the trial New Creation is going through or you’re going through personally, remember that boy in the cave. He didn’t know all the bumps and bruises he’d encounter along the way – but he was sure about where he was going, and he knew who’d see him through. Give yourself to him. Trust him. Keep the eye of faith on him. That’s exactly what he wants you to do.