Has someone ever come up to you and said, “Well, I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. Which do you want to hear first?” I know that I prefer a different alternative. Can I just hear the good news? If not, how about neither? None of us like to hear bad news.
Last time, I talked about the living hope that we can have through Jesus Christ. Through the work of Christ, God is the source and foundation for that hope. It is a hope that is eternal, and one that God Himself secures for us. This is a great assurance and one that we can hold onto and rejoice in. The apostle Peter says as much, in the words that directly follow these promises. “In this you rejoice…” However, he then continues with words that we may not be so thrilled to hear:
“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
Peter has just spoken of the wonderful hope we have in Christ. But, for those to whom he is writing this letter, he also knows that they have been going through some very hard times. This passage recognizes the reality of trials in our lives. It also shows how God works through the trials in our lives.
Trials result in grief and suffering. There is no way around it. Trials bring aggravation, struggle, grief, and pain. They are not pleasant. Peter mentions this regarding those who will be reading this letter. They have been grieved by various trials. One of the things I love about the Bible is its truthfulness. Not only is it the Word of God, without error and completely reliable, but it shows people and situations for who and what they really are. Suffering is not fun, and the Bible does not say otherwise. But at least we are not just left with that.
Trials are temporary. “Now for a little while…” Right now, things may be hard, but it will not last. There is no guarantee of when a given trial may end, or even that it won’t get worse. But it will not last forever. Even if it lasts a lifetime, that is a brief moment in view of eternity, where God has prepared a glorious inheritance for those who are in Christ. So, we can rejoice in our living hope, even in the midst of suffering, trusting in the Lord and holding fast to His promises and purpose for our lives.
Trials are used by God. “If necessary” notes that there is purpose in the trials that God has allowed in our lives. Trials serve the purpose of revealing the genuineness of our faith. They demonstrate where our true hope lies and what we truly value in life. Is my faith real or am I just pretending or going through the motions? I am afraid that my trials often reveal that I have a long way to go in becoming like Christ. My focus and the things I value are frequently shown to be selfish and temporary. And it does not take a very severe trial to reveal this.
Our faith in Christ is priceless. Peter says that our faith in God is more precious than gold. The faith and trust that we place in Christ is highly valuable. It does not say this specifically, but I think that this means that our faith is highly valued by the Lord Himself. It is precious to Him when we place our trust in Him. I think it is also valuable because God uses our faith to demonstrate the wonder of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Trials refine us to be more like Christ. I think there is a reason that Peter uses the comparison of our faith to gold and the process of testing by fire. I heard the following illustration years ago and it has stayed with me as a reminder of how God work in our lives. It described the process for refining silver or gold, back before all of our modern technology was developed. A silver or gold smith would take the raw ore that contained the metal and heat it to a very high temperature. They were careful not to heat it too hot, because that could result in the destruction of the valuable metal in the ore.
As the material began to melt, the dross, or less valuable materials, would rise to the top. The smith would scrape off the dross and repeat the process. After a while, they would scrape off the dross and look into the pot. There, they would begin to see a dull reflection of themselves. As they continued, each time, their image would be a little clearer. In much the same way, God uses the “fire” of trials to help us become for Christ-like. As we trust in Him and allow Him to work in our lives, God sanctifies us, causing us to become more like Jesus. Our lives begin to better reflect the image of our Savior as we allow Him to scrape the dross out of our lives.
Trials result in praise, glory, and honor. As we become more like Christ and the genuineness of our faith is revealed, the result is celebration and glory being given to God. Also, we rejoice in the victories that God gives by bringing us through our trials and presenting us before His throne at the coming of Christ. Our genuine faith, more precious than gold, will be celebrated as we rejoice before the Lord for all eternity.
So, if we see this through the eyes of God, there is really no good news/bad news situation here. We have a living hope. We do have struggles and trials. However, if we allow God to use those in our lives, He can use them to transform us more into the image of His Son. So, when He looks into our lives, He sees a reflection of Himself. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
In the end, trials remain only for a little while. Compared to eternity, and the joy that awaits us, these are but momentary struggles. For a little while, we are tested. Forever, we will enjoy and celebrate the love and glory of our God and Savior.
Together for His glory…