“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 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.”
1 Peter 1:6-7
There are Christians who have faced and are even now confronted with trials and tribulations that I cannot even begin to imagine or be able to relate to. I can’t even process what it would feel like to lose a child or to be tortured relentlessly on account of my faith in Christ. It is difficult to try to put myself in the shoes of someone like Joni Eareckson Tada, who was left a quadriplegic after a diving accident when she was a teenager. Yet there are days where my grief over my own, smaller by comparison trials seems so heavy. However, this passage from 1 Peter speaks directly to my wandering heart and rebukes then restores my vision for the value of trials.
In verse 6, grief as a result of trials is validated, “you have been grieved by various trials”, we will feel grief when we face certain painful trials and it is okay, it is not a sin to be grieved by trials. We can’t leave it there though, we must look back at the beginning of the verse, “In this you rejoice…though…you have been grieved by..trials..” What is it that we can possibly find to rejoice in when we feel like we are drowning in our difficulties and sorrows? Look back to verses 3-5,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5 ESV)
We rejoice in God’s great mercy, we rejoice that he has caused us to be born again, we rejoice in the living hope that we have in that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, we rejoice in our inheritance that is being kept in heaven for us, we rejoice that God himself is guarding and sustaining our faith till the end, we rejoice in salvation. The sorrow of a Christian never outweighs his joy in his King. And this is why it is so important for us to understand the purpose and the message of these verses (1 Peter 1:6-7), our trials are not meaningless, fruitless, or unknown to God. In fact, the words if necessary reveal that our trials are not unknown to God but rather they are planned and allowed by him for a good reason. The reason may never be known to us while we are on earth, but what we do know is what the scripture says. Trials do two things; they test the genuineness of our faith so that our faith is either proven to be true or fictitious, and if true they make our faith valuable and honorable in the sight of God.
The passage speaks of gold that is tested by fire and John Calvin said this about it, “..for if gold, a corruptible metal, is deemed of so much value that we prove it by fire, that it may become really valuable, what wonder is it that God should require a similar trial as to faith, since faith is deemed by him so excellent?”
It is by faith we are saved. The quality of our faith is important to God and the beautiful thing about it is that he doesn’t expect us to purify it and make it of worth on our own efforts. We are commanded to make every effort to supplement our faith with godly virtues (2 Peter 1:5), and there is a responsibility to persevere in this. However, 2 Peter 1:3 says that, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,”. He has granted to us all that we need to do well in following his commands.
John Calvin also said, “the whole course of our life leads to the destruction of the external man”. Trials are God’s means of purifying us, ridding us of sinful tendencies, destroying our affections for sinful pleasures, and molding us into a spotless bride for Christ. Through the trials that God allows for us our faith will be made precious and will result in praise glory and honor both for us and for Christ on the day we meet him face to face.
I wanted to close with an encouraging quote from Joni Eareckson Tada, whom I mentioned in the opening paragraph. She has learned the value of trials in a way that I hope I never have to endure, but that I hope God will give me the grace to learn before I die.
“In a way I wish I could take to heaven my old, tattered Everest and Jennings wheelchair. I would point to the empty seat and say, “Lord, for decades I was paralyzed in this chair. But it showed me how paralyzed You must have felt to be nailed to Your Cross. My limitations taught me something about the limitations You endured when You laid aside your robes of state and put on the indignity of human flesh.” At that point, with my strong and glorified body, I might sit in it, rub the armrests with my hands, look up at Jesus, and add, “The weaker I felt in this chair, the harder I leaned on You. And the harder I leaned, the more I discovered how strong You are. Thank you, Jesus for learning obedience in your suffering…You gave me grace to learn obedience in mine.” ~Joni Eareckson Tada
Preparing the Way,