All Kinds of Trials
“[Your trials] have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7 NIV)
The worst thing you can go through as a Christian is to do everything right, to be obedient and faithful to God and his Word, yet still be suffering and going through “all kinds of trials” with no apparent rhyme or reason or justification for it. That hurts. It is then that we must remember that we don’t go through anything unless it has been permitted by God; and that he many times allows that suffering for the testing of our faith.
The Apostle Peter likens the testing of our faith to the refining of gold, the most precious commodity of the day. You refine gold by placing it in the oven, turning up the heat, and melting it down so that any of the impurities can come to the surface and be skimmed off. Peter says that the most precious thing to God is not gold or your IQ or money or the ability to sing or write a book. The most precious thing to God is your faith, and faith is purified and proved genuine only through difficulties and trials.
Using the analogy of the gold being refined by fire, Peter is saying that God is the one controlling the heat. But remember: There are nail prints in the Refiner’s hands. It’s not punishment. The Lord loves us so much and treasures our faith in him so much, that from time to time he puts us in situations that not only prove our faith genuine, but also rid us of the junk that may have gotten in—junk, such as leaning on our own understanding or depending on anything or anyone more than on God. Some may think they have faith, but when trouble comes, faith is gone, and they’re gone as well, having given up on church, their marriages, and their desire to live a righteous life.
Remember the parable of the sower, which speaks about the seed that fell in shallow ground. When the sun came up with its heat—symbolic of trouble or persecution—the young plants dried up because they were in shallow ground, which is representative of a shallow faith with no depth. The Lord doesn’t want you to have a shallow faith; he wants you to trust ultimately in him.
The reason for this is not only because it means so much to God, or because it is good for you; but also because it’s what the body of Christ needs. Christians need encouragement more than anything else. But how can you give anyone encouragement without faith? If you have never walked in the valley or had all the props removed so that it’s just you and God and his Word, how can you help someone else?
The body of Christ needs men and women and young people who have had their faith purified through tears, though life may have at times seemed unfair, with no good explanation for the trials you sometimes go through. When you don’t know what’s going on, when you don’t have a clue as to why all this is happening, that’s when all of the junk is coming off and your faith is being purified. And then, when someone’s back is against the wall, and they need someone who has that kind of faith, you can reach down and say with strength and moral authority, “God’s going to see you through!”
And you will receive praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed, not because you have a PhD or have accumulated wealth and accolades in life, but because of your faith, which was proved genuine to God, to yourself, and to others.
Read James 1:2-12 for more on the testing of our faith.