In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 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 (1 Peter 1:6-7 NASB).
“If necessary” is a telling phrase. Peter is writing to people who are experiencing great suffering. He writes the entire letter of 1 Peter to encourage them.
But he begins by reminding them that, during this brief life, we will have trials, and those trials do have purpose. In fact, it is in the understanding of their purpose that trials lose their power to distress and destroy us.
It is difficulty that pushes us to Christ, that causes us to believe, that makes us desperate to find the only One who can help us in our problems. Without such suffering, we would go on our way never thinking about God. Secure in our sinful depravity and self-reliance, we would assume that all is right with the world.
But it is not. We were never made to live independent lives. And we are not designed to live for this world. This is a training ground, and there are profound lessons to be gained. Trials take us there in the deepest of ways.
Therefore, God graciously causes or allows trials in this life to bring us to the end of ourselves. He uses these moments (while never doing evil) to push us to Himself, which is the only posture where we will be successful. Difficulties are hard; they are persistent, but they are also purposeful.
When we trust God in the midst of suffering, we discover (and show the world) that God is always faithful … that His 7,000 promises are intensely reliable … that He is a God of tender grace and infinite mercy … that nothing is impossible with Him … that we can believe in Him and that, when we do, there are certain and sure results from a loving God.
At the end of the day, our tested faith results in “praise and glory and honor” going to the One to whom alone it is due. What greater purpose could I serve than to show the world the reality of God so they can have a right opinion of Him?
J. I. Packer said, “If you ask, ‘Why is this happening?’ no light may come; but if you ask, ‘How am I to glorify God now?’ there will always be an answer.”
What Paul calls “momentary light affliction” (2 Corinthians 4:17) will come to you. Finding God’s purpose will give you the foundation to get you through.
One day soon, you will see their purpose in stunning brilliance, and you will be glad you trusted God.
Father, Your knowledge of everything is a comfort to my soul. Help me to trust You. Help me to glorify You today and not worry about tomorrow. Thank You that You are making a home for me where there is no more sorrow … no more tears. Until then, keep me faithful by Your strong right arm.