1 Peter 1:6-7, Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
This passage is difficult for many Christians to understand because St. Peter is describing a people who are simultaneously rejoicing in Christ’s name while being distressed. This example (and the Christian life overall) is paradoxical. There exists a superficial view of Christianity claiming that when a person becomes Christian, all the problems he or she faces will disappear forever and they will be happy all the time without facing any troubles of any kind (otherwise known as the heresy of the prosperity gospel). Not only does that sound too good to be true, but it also sounds like an incredibly boring life. Or some may think when they do face trouble, it must mean they’re not “Christian enough,” which the prosperity gospel also teaches. No, that is a new age do-good religion; that is not New Testament Christianity.
I mentioned the prosperity gospel, which such heretical preachers like Joel Osteen teaches, and it teaches that God wants all of us to be happy with the Christian Scientist thinking (a false religion) that if you just believe in yourself and think positively, good things will come your way. If that were true, then every single apostle would not have been brutally murdered for preaching the Gospel, such as being beheaded, speared, and crucified upside down—all except for John who died of old age during his exile on Patmos. I’ll briefly approach this in a later blog, but again, these false beliefs are not New Testament Christianity. These are the kinds of thoughts cults have always offered and also what modern psychology offers, and unfortunately we can add charismatic Christianity to the list (e.g. the false teachings of Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer).
One thing we can be grateful for is the blunt honesty of the Scriptures; they give us the simple truths about ourselves and about our life in this world. This is exactly why the world hates Christians because whom we live for—Jesus Christ—testifies against the sins of the world and its evils (John 7:7). In this long running blog series on Facing Trials, I will be discussing the necessity of facing trials. Also, in this study of theodicy, the reason for bad things happening to us only applies to Christians, not those whose identity lies outside of Christ and instead upon the things of the world. So keep that in mind as you’re reading this entire series.
Stay tuned for next time when I begin discussing what St. Peter means by this “heaviness.”