1 Peter 1:6-9
6 “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.”
As Peter reminds us of Christ’s resurrection from the dead and what is reserved for those who have a relationship with the risen Savior we cannot help but smile at the wonderful joy we have in Jesus. The Greek word for joy here implies a forever joy, an out of this world joy, it is used in 1:8 to convey an “inexpressible and glorious joy” and again in 4:13 for being “overjoyed” at the revelation of Jesus Christ. This is a jubilant joy based on our journey with Jesus and His finished work. As believers the best is yet to come, yet we so often forget to have a forward looking focus. It’s easy to get trapped by the temporary instead of the excitement we can experience through our eternal life. Peter tells us the truth about this life, we will experience trials and tribulations but we don’t have to let them trip us up. We can focus on the hardships or the heart of the Father, we can meditate on mercy or misery, on the challenges or the coming glorious culmination of our salvation. For those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ the problems are not permanent but the promises are. Today are you dwelling on the problems or the promises? We have an inheritance that is both reserved and preserved, pure and priceless. One that is not left to chance or change, free from the bonds of death and decay, and beyond our wildest dreams. So how should we respond to the wonderful work of our Savior? Peter says that we should rejoice in our redemption with an inexpressible joy. Our confident is not based on our circumstances but Christ and what is yet to come. Our souls can smile through the suffering because we have a Savior who is stronger than our sin and more powerful than our problems. Peter says that this is a joy that can’t be kept on the inside, it is not hidden by hurt, rather it is revealed through the rough times. As we experience and endure the trials of life God refines our faith and develops our inner strength. Preparing us for the most wonderful experience of our existence, our great personal encounter with Him, as we step from earth into eternity. Peter starts first with truth and them proceeds to talk about the trials, because God’s truth always trumps our trials. So after beginning his letter with wonderful words of hope and encouragement, Peter proceeds with caring counsel for those who are facing trials and suffering. Peter knows firsthand what it is to face temptations and trials, I’m sure he remembers well the pain and disappointment of his denial of Christ. We are all tempted at some time to turn our backs on what we believe, to forsake our faith and fall away. Like Peter many have heard the rooster crow, revealing their failing courage and cowering fear. But Peter learned that God is greater than our grief, that God can uses trials to bring benefits into our life. As Peter shares with a church caught in suffering he reminds them that no matter what the journey brings we can have joy. That even though this life holds hardships, filled with sadness and suffering Christ is still in control. We rejoice because as Christians trials don’t define us they refine us. We have a Redeemer that is renewing us and who will richly reward, the eternal gains of heaven will more than compensate our earthly hurts. Hardships can help, they don’t have to hinder and harden the heart, and instead trials teach us to be tender. They can enrich and develop our faith, which God says is more precious than gold. God is not the source of suffering or the author of affliction but He also doesn’t allow it to be wasted. He uses every trial to train, and only God can bring miracles out of our misery. God assures us that He will plant seeds in the soil of our sorrow that will sprout up to compete and choke out the weeds of this world. Seeds that will bloom and bear fruit, bolstering our faith, not saving faith, but sanctifying faith. Trials have two benefits for believers, first these trials demonstrate our Faith. Trials test and reveal real faith. In James 1:12 the word test comes from the Greek word, dokimon, meaning to test for the purpose of approving. Suffering trials demonstrates the authenticity of our faith, putting it on display for the entire world to see. Here Peter provides us with the picture of gold. If you thought you had discovered gold how would you prove its authenticity, and reveal its true value? First you would take it to an assayer who would evaluate it by putting it to the test. Testing gold involves rubbing the gold-colored item on black stone, which will leave an easily visible mark. The mark is then tested by applying nitric acid which will dissolve the mark of any item that is not gold. This testing focuses on the fact that gold is a noble metal, resistant to change by corrosion, oxidation or acid. Peter says that the same thing often happens to our faith, if we had nothing but favorable circumstances, our faith might not be authentic faith rooted in the Father but simply our favorable circumstances. Take away our favorable circumstances, replace our comfort with crisis and if faith in God is still there, it’s genuine. What about your faith is it leaving a mark that is not dissolved by the afflicting acid of life? Second, trials develop and deepen our Faith. Stress can strengthen, and just like a physical muscle that is exercised so our faith must also be flexed. Trials test our faith, refining by removing the rubbish. When gold comes out of the ground it is often mixed with impurities, taking the flames of the fire to refine. In this life we will experience trials of testing, whose purpose is not just to reveal our faith, but to refine it. We can rejoice in tests and trials because they reveal what is real and hopefully we can respond like Job, a man who knew disaster and difficulty, Job 23:10 “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” What hard thing is harassing you, what life lesson are you learning right now? Is your faith being revealed and refined? Are you focusing on the mark of faith or the misery? Just like gold we need the fire to test and refine our faith, as it burns away the impurities. Only when we see the benefit of the fire, and perceive its purifying purpose will we rejoice in difficulty rather than rebel. Trails are not about us trying but simply trusting. May be today you are struggling under the heat of some hardship, just remember that no matter how hot it gets God’s hand is on the thermostat and He knows what He is doing. So are you going to shout about your salvation or your suffering?