“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
‘Rejoicing’ and ‘trials’ are not two words that we often put together. Instructions like “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…” James 1:2, appear quite odd for many Christians. They seem distant and theoretical. Yet in the verses before us today, Peter notes that these believers continue to rejoice even in the midst of trials which grieve them. How, we must ask, can this be?
Consider first of all what the believers are rejoicing in. Peter writes “in this you rejoice…” A brief look at the verses before our section helps you to see that their joy is based on the work that God has done in their lives and the hope that He has given them in Christ Jesus. God caused them to be born again and gave them a guaranteed inheritance, and He is powerfully guarding them through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed on the last day. This is the grounds for their rejoicing even in the midst of their trials. These believers knew that there is nothing they could lose in this world that could compare to the eternal treasure that they had received in Christ. If your hope is in this life, then losses will be devastating. However, if your hope is in something much greater, and much more firmly secured, then even the greatest losses will not drive you to complete despair. Only in light of eternity can we truly rejoice even in the face of grievous trials.
Notice also the nature of the trials that these believers were facing. They are described in two ways: necessary and yet grievous. As believers, we have placed our faith in a God who loved us enough to give us His only Son. We have a God who loved us enough to take away our sin at the price of His own life! What this means is that God would never allow us to go through any sufferings or trials that are unnecessary. None of the Christian’s trials are ever just for fun or without meaning. We might not always know the answers for why we encounter various trials, but we can rest in the confidence that God does. And we can trust Him.
At the same time, the Bible does not take our trials lightly. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Peter acknowledges that these trials grieve us. The Christian is not called to smile in the face of suffering, loss, pain and death. We are welcome to grieve before our God, pouring out our hearts to Him. Therefore, the joy that the believer has in the midst of trials is not the kind of joy that ignores the trials, but that which puts these trials in perspective, in light of the fact that these are only for a little while, and they only come if necessary. Hope in God allows the believer to grieve without completely despairing.
Finally, consider the outcome of our sufferings. Trials exist to test the genuineness of our faith, and to strengthen it. Peter refers to our faith as being “more precious than gold which perishes.” The trials that we undergo are not meaningless. They work to test our faith, and we can be encouraged “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:3) Interestingly, just like exercise builds muscles by straining them, our faith is also strengthened through the trials that test it. And Peter urges his readers to persevere through trials “so that the tested genuineness of your faith may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Therefore, dear believer in Jesus, know that none of the trials you are called to endure are meaningless. Understand that they only act to strengthen and refine your faith by testing it. Learn to grieve honestly before the Lord, while still maintaining hope in His kindness and eternal promises to you. And strive to persevere, for we know that the tested genuineness of our faith will result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Write down two lists: one on the trials that you are currently facing in your life, and another on the glories that are yours in Christ. Compare them and see which one is longer and weightier. According to these lists, do you have reason to rejoice even in the midst of grievous trials?