And that Wedding? Being the bride means a lot of preparation. We're in a time of preparation here. Jesus said, "So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." John 16:22 (Author's suggestion: read John 16: 17-24)

It's easy to say, "be joyous," or "you will be filled with joy." It's encouraging to read of the joy the disciples experienced at the hands of those who abused them after Jesus ascended. We take these things to heart and still find it difficult to be joyous when our time comes to "suffer." Worry. Doubt. Be concerned.

So why be joyous?

Back to Peter

Let's go back and look at what Peter said before he insisted on this little joyfest.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice... (1Peter 1: 3-6a)

When I read these words recently-as I struggled through an emotional time of uncertainly and spiritual frustration and spiritual exhaustion-I found myself overwhelmed by their meaning. It's almost too much to take at one sitting, or even at one breath. To help myself digest it (for the Word is spiritual food to me), I broke it down. Allow me to do the same for you.

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...

New birth into a living hope.

Have you ever wanted to start over? Recently, as I walked through the campus of a writer's conference, notebook in hand, I said to an editor who was heading in the same direction as me, "Why do I feel like I'm a teenager in high school again?"

"That's a scary thought," he joked back. "High school...."

"Oh, to go back and do it all over again," I bantered back.

"Would you really, though?" he asked.

"Can I know what I know now?"

If you're an adult, you've probably said it at least once: if I could only go back and do it over again. New birth is what you're asking for. A second chance. Well, guess what? You've got it! 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

We can be joyous because, as believers in Christ, we get to start over-do it right, do it better. Not just once, but every single day of our lives.

New birth into a living hope.

What is hope? Furthermore, how is it that it becomes living? In and of itself, hope is inanimate. In your basic dictionary, it is initially described as "desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment" (Merriam-Webster). However, the second definition is more closely associated with the word Peter wrote (translated into the Greek word, Elpis): someone or something on which hopes are centered. (Emphasis mine.)

That someone is Jesus...and He is alive and well, ladies and gentlemen. He is alive, standing at the right hand of the Father, and together they are preparing for that day we talked about earlier-the Wedding Day of all wedding days.

Because He is alive, we have both new birth and will spend eternity as His Bride.

And that's a reason to be joyous!

 

Eva Marie Everson is the author of Shadow of Dreams & Summon the Shadows and an award-winning national speaker. She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at Bridegroomsbride@aol.com or you can go to her website here.


1 Pillai, Rajendra Reaching the World in Our Own Backyard (Waterbrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO.; 2003)