God’s Design For The Trials Of Believers:
His Glory And Our Benefit
By Pastor Rene Ely
“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
Unavoidable and unforeseen trials or afflictions often come to us and we all struggle with frustration, irritation, anger, and confusion when they do. In trying times like this Covid crisis, we are always
reminded that everything around us happens with God’s permission and absolute control as “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28). Scripture assures us that all details in this world and our lives are ordained by God. Our all-knowing and all-wise God created and designed all things- including our daily trials – for our good and ultimately for His glory. May our day-to-day experiences of difficulties and adversities be seen from this truth of God’s Word.
Peter wrote this letter (1 Peter) to a group of Christians scattered throughout the northern areas of Asia Minor to encourage them to endure under trials, persecutions, and unjust sufferings. Peter stressed that Jesus must be the center for ordering their lives in the midst of trials and tribulations. He also added that by rooting their perseverance in the person and work of Christ, they can always cling to hope in the midst of suffering. This was the kind of true perseverance that God expects from His people.
Peter praises God for His grace and salvation in spite of affliction (1:3-12). He explains the nature, necessity, and grief of suffering to prove the genuineness of one’s faith with the intended result of suffering: a proven or tested faith that will bring glory to God (vv. 6-7).
Peter declares that our trials are not meaningless, fruitless, or unknown to God, but are planned and allowed by Him for good reasons. It important then that believers must have a clear biblical understanding of the value of trials as God intends them.
Peter gives SIX important biblical perspectives on trials as designed by God for His glory and the benefit of believers: (1) Rejoicing is possible even in the midst trials (2) Believers will experience trials (3) Trials are necessary (4) Trials are temporary (5) Trials are needed in the testing of faith (6) Tested faith will bring glory to God.
REJOICING IS POSSIBLE EVEN IN THE MIDST TRIALS
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials” (v.6). What is it that we can possibly find to rejoice in in the midst of our difficulties and sorrows? We have to look back to verses 3–5 to find the answer: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5 ESV). Peter is saying that rejoicing is possible because of the truths of who God is and what He has done in the lives of His children.
We can rejoice because of God’s great mercy. We rejoice because in Christ, God has caused us to be born again. We rejoice in pain and suffering because we have a living hope that is in our Lord Jesus Christ. We rejoice in our true and lasting inheritance that is being kept in heaven for us. We rejoice even in the midst of our sorrow because God Himself is guarding and sustaining our faith until the time when we see Christ face to face. Even though we suffer, we are to rejoice that our salvation is secure, this is the work of a sovereign God (1 Peter 1-6a).
BELIEVERS WILL EXPERIENCE TRIALS
Peter without hesitation is saying that believers will suffer in this life through “various trials” and that they should expect to suffer. James also tells us that adversity comes our way in many different forms (James 1:2-4). Our Lord Jesus clearly indicated suffering would come our way, as did Paul and other New Testament writers (John 15:20-21, Acts 14:21-22, 2 Timothy 3:10-12). The writer to the Hebrews likewise speaks of the suffering of the believers (Hebrews 10:32-35).
Peter wants us to recognize that suffering is a normal part of the Christian life. He tells us not to be surprised “at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). The word of God confirms that we will experience various trials that will grieve us because we live in a fallen world (Romans 8:18-25) and among men who hate the Son of God in whom we have put our trust (John 15:20-21).
TRIALS ARE NECESSARY
As God is sovereign both in our salvation (1:1-5) and in our sufferings (vv. 6-7), no suffering occurs without purpose. God is aware of every tear we shed in sorrow (Psalm 56:8), and so every affliction is ultimately known and permitted by God (Job 1 and 2; Psalm 119:75).
Peter tells us that suffering only comes to us when the sovereign God of the universe deems it necessary—a sovereign and merciful God who causes “all things to work together for our good” (Romans 8:28). Though difficult, we may rest assured there are no senseless sufferings for believers. In God’s sovereignty, every trial has a purpose and spiritual benefit for every believer in Christ.
TRIALS ARE TEMPORARY
Peter is saying that all our earthly sufferings are temporary, as seen in the phrase “now for a little while”. Heavenly glory is eternal, even our blessed hope and unfading inheritance in Christ. For those who are in Christ, suffering and trials occur only in this life. There will be no sorrow or suffering then in the glorious future that awaits His children (Revelation 21:2-4).
The apostle Paul gave a beautiful contrast on the present trials of this life with the future glory which we await: “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Paul tells us that our sufferings are momentary, but glory is eternal. Suffering is “light,” but glory is “weighty” and so whatever sufferings or trials we may have right now can never compare with what we have in future glory.
TRIALS ARE NEEDED IN THE TESTING OF FAITH
Peter is saying that trials test the genuineness of our faith so that our faith is either proven to be true or false. The text speaks of gold that is tested by fire. John Calvin gave a beautiful illustration about this, “...for if gold, a corruptible metal, is deemed of so much value that we prove it by fire, that it may become really valuable, what wonder is it that God should require a similar trial as to faith since faith is deemed by Him so excellent?” In other words, he is saying that the more pure and refined the gold of our faith, the more clearly is Christ’s beauty and worth will be reflected in and through us.
Trials are God’s means of purifying and cleansing us. Through trials, God is exposing the sinfulness of our hearts, removing in us sinful tendencies and sinful pleasures. Trials in the process of sanctification are shaping us into the likeness of Christ. We need to be reminded that the quality of our faith is important to God and He desires that our faith to grow and be strengthened. We are commanded to make every effort to be deepened in our faith and with all other godly virtues. Testing proves the preciousness of our faith.
TESTED FAITH WILL BRING GLORY TO GOD
"...that the proof of your faith . . . may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (v.7) Peter is saying that the tested or proven faith of believers will give glory to God. Through the trials that God allows for us, our faith will be made precious resulting in the praise glory and honor of God even on the day we meet Christ face to face.
The trials and tribulations of life prove not only the genuineness of our faith, but they strengthen and purify our faith as well (James 1:2-4; Hebrews 12:1-13). God wants our faith to grow, and suffering is one of the best instruments for that growth. Our faith that is tested to be true in trials will make us ready and available to bring honor to God.
In God's wise and holy design, the result of our refining through trials is always to glorify Him. Through the enabling of His Holy Spirit, we can embrace and learn from the trials He allows and we are assured that these will always spiritually benefit us.
God bless you all!