“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. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1: 6-9
A recurring biblical theme, it seems, is the promotion of the trials of life, and the believer’s response to them. James spent much time encouraging his readers regarding this topic, as did Paul, and now Peter will chime in as well. We should not read anything into these texts that the authors did not intend. For example, when James said, “count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds (1:2),” he wasn’t encouraging his readers to adopt some ridiculous attitude towards pain and suffering. Allow me to illustrate this by considering a woman in labor. If, during the pains of childbirth, the doctor comes in and instructs the woman to cheer up and get really excited because this is a good pain, she will probably try to get her hands around his neck and choke his eyeballs out.
James, nor Peter here, is instructing the reader to succumb to an unrealistic approach to suffering. It’s called pain because it’s painful.
The biblical approach to the suffering of believers is a joyful attitude in the midst of the trials. It’s not joyful because of the pain, but because the believer can trust that God is in full control of the trial and is accomplishing a great and needful work through the trial.
One example of this is of course the life of Joseph. He was sold into slavery by his own brothers, thrown into prison because of the lies of a wicked woman, and yet, when all was said and done, God saved the nation of Israel through his suffering. Joseph wisely stated, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.”
But Peter carries the purpose of these unwanted events in our lives a step further. He states, “though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” And this, “receiving the end of your faith — the salvation of your souls.”
There is no promise in Scripture of a blissful life, without trials, suffering, and persecution, this side of our eternal home.
But there is a promise. And this is what Peter comforts his readers with. Even though we have not seen Jesus, we love Him and believe Him. Being the simple-minded person that I am, I can’t help but picture a scene for all believers one day in the presence of our Lord. I see our chins hitting the ground in awe. When we finally see through the glass clearly, and fully comprehend what happened on that cross a couple thousand years ago, I see me and you falling to our knees in adoring worship and praise to the Lamb (and Lion) who is worthy.
If we are blessed with enough grace in this lifetime to catch just a glimmer of His Glory, we will understand why Peter could encourage his readers to be joyful in their trials.
“Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift.” Jesus — 2 Corinthians 9:15