1 Peter 1:6-7, “6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Trials. No one likes them. Everyone prays that they stay away or leave as quickly as they came upon us. They can range from mild irritation to life-changing, but all impact our lives. For most of us, however, they do not rise to the level of what the recipients of Peter’s letter faced. The persecution they faced drove them from their land, forced them to live as exiles in a foreign land, and caused them to be in danger of losing their lives. Peter expresses in these verses a perspective that is helpful to remember whatever level of trial we face.
As I write this article, we are in the midst of a significant storm. Winds are whipping around. Rain is pelting against my office window. The storms of life rage around us, as they did in Peter’s time. From 1 Peter 1:6-7, though, we see four solid rocks for us to stand on amid stormy weather.
Solid rock #1: Our trials always come in a context of truth worthy of rejoicing. Peter begins vs. 6 with the short phrase, “In this, you rejoice,” which takes us back to the previous verses to see that “this” refers to the living hope we have for a future with God. Within the midst of any trial, this truth still stands: we are born again to a living hope, assuming we know and trust Jesus Christ as our Savior. This hope is kept in heaven for you, keeping it perfect with no loss of luster. We have not tested it, but my family has a fire safe box that is designed to withstand a fire in the house so that your important documents will not go up in the flames. I hope we never have to test it, but I also hope the people who sell these boxes are right in their sales pitch. With God, we have a sure guarantee that the hope we have in God will last and will not fade one bit no matter what trial comes our way.
Solid rock #2: The trials are always temporary. This does not mean that it will feel like it is temporary, but it will be. Peter writes, “though now for a little while.” We don’t know how long “a little while” is, but we can see examples from Scripture like Joseph who had to endure many years, perhaps up to 25 years of trials before seeing an end to it. When the trials of life hit, it is important to know that the trial will not last forever. We have all sat at a red traffic light waiting for it to turn green. Sometimes the wait is longer than at other times, and we may get a little irritated by it, but we do know that in time, we will get a green light. We don’t pull up to a red light and go into a full-blown panic because we know that in time, it will turn to green. When facing trials, remember that they will not last forever and walk by faith until the other side.
Solid rock #3: The trials are painful. I think one of our unspoken (or spoken in some cases) myths of the Christian life is that we are to act like the trial does not bother us. We pull out Philippians 4:4 where it tells us to rejoice or 1 Thessalonians 5 and give thanks in all circumstances, and then we tell ourselves to put on a happy face. Those who give credence to such a myth have to answer what they do with Psalms where the writer cries out to God in anguish. Peter does not gloss over the pain when he tells them they have been “grieved by various trials.” Grief is not limited to the loss of a loved one. It can include anything that brings a sadness or heaviness to life. Perhaps you could be going through a relational breakup or a job loss. Or maybe you have seen your children grow up and leave home and you miss them. Or, in the context of this letter, perhaps living for Jesus has caused you to lose home and land, and threatened your very life. All of these things can produce grief, and we must not run from this fact. Acknowledging that the pain of the trial hurts is a first step on the path God has for us.
Solid rock #4: The trials are purposeful. There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” A corollary to that is “God does not tell you the journey is a thousand miles until after the journey is complete.” The challenge, then, is to see by faith that the trials we experience serve a purpose.
James, in his book, indicates that trials are meant to test our faith in such a way that endurance and maturity develop in the lives of believers. David writes in the Psalms that it was good that he was afflicted that he might learn God’s word. Peter, however, does not point to a specific element of life that is enhanced right now through the trials. What he does direct our attention to is that at the end, the tested genuineness of our faith would result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
In many ways, this last perspective is the most difficult and most faith-testing. This is where our faith is put to the test. Do we really believe God is good? Do we really believe God will use this for good in us? Do we really believe any of what we know to be true about God?
So, when the trials of life come, we must ask these questions and respond by faith that, despite the adverse circumstances, what is true about God does not change. The good news in this is, if we are part of God’s family, our faith is genuine and will come through the testing. We do not have to muster up some super-human strength to stand. We simply cling to the truth that God has chosen us, and He does not lose us. The second half of this is that the genuine faith not only saves us, but it brings honor and glory to God. Peter understood this very keenly during his time with Jesus. When asked who had sinned causing blindness, Jesus answered that it was not the sin of the man or his parents, but that “the works of God might be displayed in him.” So, was it our faith that was genuine or was it the influence of those who shared the gospel with us? Neither. The tested, genuine faith gives glory and honor to God for His work in our lives. May God give us grace for the trials of life so that He is glorified in all that we do.