Seventy-three years ago, the fate of the world hung in the balance; everything depended on the success or failure of an imminent invasion. Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allied Forces, was to make the call.

Early on the morning of June 6, 1944, paratroopers began dropping behind enemy lines. In a few more hours, thousands of young men would begin storming the beaches of Normandy, France. About 10,000 would die that day, and by evening the world would know whether or not it had all been in vain.

I wonder how Eisenhower spent the night of the fifth. Watching, waiting? Did he sweat blood? Did he pray in a garden? Imagine if he called you and said, “Would you come watch and wait with me?” Would that be an honor? If you were Eisenhower, whom would you call?

Jesus called on Peter.

In a few hours, Jesus would be nailed to a tree, and He would descend into the depths of the earth, the depths of every evil decision made by the children of Adam — your pain, your isolation, your sin, your sorrow. In the garden of Gethsemane, He prayed, “Father, take this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will but thy will, be done.” Just before He made this choice on our behalf, He turned to Peter, and said, “My soul is filled with sorrow, even unto death. Would you stay awake with me, watch, and wait, with me? And pray that you would not enter into temptation.”

Three times, Jesus asked this of Peter.
Three times, Peter fell asleep.
Three times, Peter denied Jesus before the dawn.
Three times the resurrected Christ asked Peter, “Do you love me?”

We ask, “Where is God when we suffer?”
Perhaps we should ask, “Where are we when God suffers?”

1 Peter 4:12: About 30 years later, Peter writes, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial [purosis: burning] when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings…”

Let’s be honest. We all find the fiery trial . . . surprising.

We tend to think that life is a test in order that God can find out what we will do.
But life is a test in order that we might find out what God has done and is always doing.
Peter just told us: Your faith is tested like good is tested—by fire.
Fire perishes, but faith does not: It is an “imperishable seed.”

We seem to think that we save ourselves from God with our faith.
But Peter seems to think God saves us from ourselves with his Faithfulness.

Faith is born at the foot of a cross, after a great test, trial, and temptation which our Lord passes and never fails, although it hurts like “hell”; for there, He bears the pain of our unfaithfulness and gives us His faithfulness. He is our righteousness. Our good free will, the decision called Love.

It’s all according to plan. And we find that to be rather surprising.

“Do not be surprised… but rejoice insofar as you share in Christ’s sufferings.” That’s surprising. We think that Christ suffered so that we don’t have to; Peter thinks that Christ suffered that we might suffer with him. ” Rejoice insofar as you share…” That’s surprising.

1 Peter 4:17: “It is time for judgment to begin with the household of God.” That’s surprising. “And if it begins with us, what will be the outcome [telos] for those who refuse to believe the gospel of God?” What should be the punishment for not believing? Not believing?

1 Peter 4:18: “If the righteous is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” What became of “the chief of sinners”? He was saved with some difficulty. Peter was saved with some difficulty. Judas must’ve been saved with even more difficulty, for after Jesus called him “friend,” he descended to the dead that “judged in the flesh the way men are, they might live in the spirit the way God does (as Peter just told us).” That surprises us.

1 Peter 4:19: “Therefore let those who suffer, while doing good, entrust their souls to a faithful Creator.” That’s especially surprising, for we thought that we had already been created.

We think the order goes: Creation (and we screw things up), Salvation (and God offers us a choice), and Judgment (And God judges our choices). But for Peter, it seems to go Judgment (God makes one: “Let us make.”), Salvation (God saves us from ourselves), and Creation (Humanity in the image and likeness of God). At a tree in a garden, at the edge of space and time, we discover that all three, judgment, salvation, and creation are one as God is One. That’s surprising!

And this is why I keep telling the story of my family’s journey to the Magic Kingdom. I’m no great father, but this is how it goes with any good father. The Father issues his judgment, which is salvation and creation: “I’m going to the Magic Kingdom. I’m taking you all with me, but none of us can arrive until we all arrive, for you all are my Magic Kingdom.” On the journey, that judgment becomes the judgment of his children. And the Magic Kingdom is that much more “magic,” because of the stop in Junction City (if I’ve lost you, read the last three descriptions), and the journey in the van. Faith and Hope in Love grow on the journey, in the van.

Sorrow is the distance between your current experience and your best imagination of the Magic Kingdom. If you bury this sorrow, refuse to face this sorrow, and try to mitigate this sorrow with your own knowledge and will power, it is called “sin.” And you will sink deeper into addiction, isolation, despair, and death. But if you surrender this sorrow and suffer it with Jesus, it goes by another name and that name is “Hope.” And “Hope will not disappoint us.”

Just before He went to the garden, and just after He gave us his body and blood, Jesus said, “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” — NOT “be replaced by joy” but “turn into joy.” Sorrow is temporal. Joy is eternal.

Sorrow reveals that “this world” is not the Magic Kingdom but something more like a bad dream that has turned into a nightmare. Surrendered sorrow is Hope.

Sorrow exposes hearts, so long as it is surrendered. Do you know what was bleeding in the Garden of Gethsemane and hanging on the tree in the Garden of Calvary? It was Jesus “from the bosom of the Father,” the Father’s heart.

Sorrow surrendered brings a body together. Surrendered sorrow is the revelation of self in the form of confession, the revelation of others in the form of compassion, the revelation of Christ in the form of Mercy, and the Revelation of God — the Sacrificial Communion of Persons called “Love.”

Surrendered sorrow is the Way to Endless Joy. Once surrendered, your “knowledge of evil” turns into “the knowledge of the Good” who is “The Life.” And knowing him is the definition of “happy.”

Rabbi Yitzhak used to say that he learned the meaning of love from two drunken peasants, each bragging about how much he loved the other. Ivan said, “Peter, do you love me?” “You know I love you,” said Peter. “Tell me what hurts me,” said Ivan. “How would I know what hurts you?” answered Peter. Ivan was quick, “If you don’t know what hurts me, how can you say you love me?”

Peter, who wrote this letter, was crucified in Rome, for he had a vision of Jesus traveling to Rome, carrying a cross. With Jesus, Peter wanted to be crucified. It wasn’t suicide; it was Love.

One day, you’ll see Jesus, drinking wine with Peter. Don’t be surprised if He lifts His cup and says, “Peter, do you love me? …Tell me what hurts me?”
And Peter replies, “Saving the world hurts you.”
Jesus laughs, and says, “Totally worth it!”
…And then he calls upon you, “Tell me what hurts me?”
And you’ll answer, “Suffering my divorce hurt you, getting picked on in third grade hurt you, when I hurt others and hurt because I hurt you . . . hurt you.”
And he’ll cry out, “Thank you for watching and waiting with me!”

Suddenly you’ll see that scars on your body match some of the scars on His. His eyes will sparkle with the deepest affection as He says, “Thank you my love. You know me, and I know you; and this is Life: We love each other.”

Those scars are eternal. So, it’s not simply that Jesus shares in your suffering. Peter writes, “Rejoice insofar as you share in his.” Sorrow, suffered with Jesus, is the recipe for endless Joy.

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