*Heaviness of Soul
Ye are in heaviness.
1 Peter 1:6 KJV
There is a near relationship between the darkness of mind in the wilderness state and heaviness of soul, which is more common among believers. The resemblance is so great that they are frequently confounded together. But they are not equivalent terms; far, far from it. The difference is so wide and essential, as all the children of God need to understand, to prevent them sliding out of heaviness into darkness.
The manner of persons to whom the apostle Peter wrote the above words were believers at that time. He expressly says (v. 5) you are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. Again (v. 7), he mentions the trial of their faith, and yet again (v. 9), he speaks of their receiving the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls. So, though they were in heaviness, they were possessed of living faith. Their heaviness did not destroy their faith. Neither did it destroy their peace, which is inseparable from true, living faith. The apostle prays (v. 2) not that grace and peace may be given them, but that it may be multiplied.
They were also full of a living hope. For he speaks (v. 3) of their living hope of their inheritance that fadeth not away. In spite of their heaviness, they still retained a hope full of immortality. And they still rejoiced (v. 8) with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Their heaviness, then, was also consistent both with living hope and inexpressible joy!
*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.
In this seventy-third lesson on prayer, Wesley draws from the words of St. Peter in 1 Peter 1:1-9, which reads,
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” (NASB).
When we look at the persecution of believers around the world today, we hear the same type of stories that Peter told. Believers, under extraordinarily harsh circumstances, relying on their faith, with joy and peace, to get them through their trials.
From Open Doors USA (opendoorsusa.org) we read, that in the last year the world saw:
Over 260 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution.
2,983 Christians killed for their faith.
9,488 churches and other Christian buildings attacked.
3,711 believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned.
“These numbers are heart-breaking. And yet, they do not tell the whole story. James 1:2-4 says, ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.’ That joy is what we see when we hear and work with Christians all over the world who suffer because they serve Jesus. God cares for His people, and He will never leave or forsake them.”
Wesley states, “So, though they were in heaviness, they were possessed of living faith. Their heaviness did not destroy their faith. Neither did it destroy their peace, which is inseparable from true, living faith. The apostle prays not that grace and peace may be given them, but that it may be multiplied.”
Lord, let our grace and peace be multiplied that we might face the days ahead with joy and assurance in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.