One day at church I had to pick Nick Vujicic up from his wheelchair and place him on a podium.
He has no arms and legs and is as charming as they come with that wonderful Aussie accent. Once on the table, he preached the gospel to a packed house at a large church. People were literally calling their friends during and after service for them to come and see Jesus.
After Nick starts preaching, you don’t notice the lack of arms and legs, all you see is the power of God.
Bethany Hamilton is just like that as well, I raised my kids on her testimony. Arguably on her way to being the best female surfer in the history of the sport, a shark took her arm. Now she speaks to people all over the world about the power of Christ.
My favorite picture is of Bethany Hamilton and Nick Vuyuck surfing together. I often stare at the photo if for no other reason their smiles are so radiant, they beam the joy of the Lord is my strength and a powerful not-today-Satan kind of attitude.
The Blessed Psalm
Peter’s line is highly apostolic, and his words are cousin to Paul’s, as seen in Ephesians 1:3 and 2 Corinthians 1:3.
Peter’s line, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” is the kind of phrase a Jewish preacher would preach. The words have the ring, pace, and cadence of a line from the book of Psalms, but the words are original to Peter. Christians commonly call Peter’s words a doxology. A doxology is when a small group of words is put together so tightly and precisely, they give theological direction in how to think about and address God.
Peter’s doxology is evidence of the glorious truths he learned from Jesus, in this moment he echoes Jesus’ teaching that God is a good good Father.
As spoken earlier, the resurrection of Jesus is the cause, reason, and power for being born again. Both the heart and the mind are permanently changed in being born again, there is no going back, a child cannot return to the mother’s womb, and neither can the believer be put back inside the devil’s lair.
Peter’s word for “born again” “anagennao” is the same Greek word found in John 3:7 where Jesus interacts with Rabbi Nicodemus, but for clarity, is not the same word found in John 3:16 for begotten.
Peter will later in 1:23 use the same word for born again.
Lee Strobel has a nice summary regarding the truthfulness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He calls it The Five E’s.
Here it is:
Ancient scholars and people believe Jesus was executed and saw him die. Ancient historians such as Josephus and Tacitus give reference to this fact.
2. Early Accounts And Reports
The earliest information on Jesus was he died on the cross and rose from the dead.
3. Empty Tomb
All historical information including basic facts from science, and human biology attest to Jesus dying on the cross.
4. Enemies Of Jesus Admitted To The Resurrection
A rumor started in an attempt to cover the facts but worked against them and the truth was exposed. If the schoolboy tells the teacher the dog ate his homework, he has just admitted he does not have his homework.
Many people saw Jesus die and rise from the dead and gave their lives to Jesus because of it.
An odd combo of words is put together for us, rejoice in trials.
And not just trials but various kinds of trials, it’s the kind of phraseology in scripture one quickly says no to, but Peter inserts sober meditation, if necessary he says. Trials can deepen our faith, that simple truth cannot be avoided.
Here is a partial list of the trials believers often go through.
Most famously Job had a skin disease and even Paul dealt with a thorn in the flesh. God was sovereign over both situations, and both took note of how their body sickness greatly tested their faith. Paul gave a concise explanation for the reason of his thorn, it was important for the apostle to stay humble, and to help him with that God gave him a thorn in the flesh. We should never assume a believer’s sickness is for the same reason, Paul was given dynamic revelations and possessed unique supernatural power. Jesus was God, Paul was a sinful man saved by grace.
It seems most certain that Moses wanted to die or possibly kill himself. Elijah spun out into a dark depression and isolation, despairing for his life after being used greatly by God.
Depression and emotional trials are complicated if for no other reason no two people have the same exact history and no two people interrupt pain exactly the same. Chemically our bodies can become depressed, and spiritually our hearts can be broken. Each dire circumstance tests the believer to not trade out what they know about God’s love and character for what they don’t understand.
Demons want us to cave in, but the testing though painful can be refining, and in the darkest hour, God is still there.
John the Baptist sent an envoy to Jesus, the question he had his team ask Jesus is interesting. They were to ask Jesus, are you the one?
Amazing coming from the preacher who baptized Jesus, but context matters as they say, and in this instance John the Baptist is about to get his head cut off. To him, it seems the promises of God have failed. He stood up to everyone opposed to God in a belief that the kingdom of God was to be restored before his eyes, yet it was truly before him but looked so different it pained him.
I will add one more kind of trial, there are what I will call Social trials.
In the modern world, countless people feel isolated.
Recently my son showed me a picture of his high school football team. My son asked me the question, what do all these kids have in common?
Mind you, I coached all these kids, there were from a generation I was involved with as they grew, so I knew their names and faces well, but somehow was at a loss to answer the question.
My son said, out of 40 players only ten have a mom and dad in the home.
That kind of divorce rate leads to bad things, and bad feelings.
For many other reasons people feel lonely and isolated,
The church interestingly enough is called the ekklessia in scripture, ekklessia is the Greek word for church. The ek part of that word means out, klessia refers to being called out, so a church is full of people who are called out from all kinds of sins and negativity into the marvelous light of Christ.
Church, when it’s the church, is a cure for some of our longings for acceptance and love. Church not only loves God, but the weary, brokenhearted, and messy people of the world. Church leans into those who are different or difficult and connects people so they can grow in Christ.
But a final word on trials must be said.
The text has a glorious line, so that the tested genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that perished though tested by fire, may result in the praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Such words are apex of scripture, the highest high point.
If Christians can show Christ redeems all pain, then the atheist must remain silent, for accusations against the goodness of God is false. God is such a miracle-working God, capable of redeeming pain in the lives of his children.
The following must be said —Pain Is Pain. Suffering Is Suffering.
Somethings just hurt, because by nature they do.
At the moment of ministering to another, often all that can be said, are the words of personal affection and affirmation, words like, “I love you, let’s walk through this together.” Those kinds of words often are the only verbal ministry a person can receive in the midst of tragedy.
Doctrine yes. Truth yes. Patient love, always.
But sometimes, pain is pain, and suffering is suffering, and those things Peter’s knows, more than most, and yet still, he helps us find the cross.