“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)
The day of trouble eventually ends up on everybody’s calendar. It doesn’t discriminate on whom it visits or how it comes. It may be a phone call, a letter in the mail, a pink slip or a diagnosis. It may involve your work, your family or your money. But it will surely involve your mind and your spirit with nagging questions like, “Why me, why this and why now?” The very fact that troubles come upon good people has puzzled saints from Job to John the Baptist. There are no easy, all-encompassing answers, but there are insights into why God’s people face trials. The Apostle Peter offers some amazing insight into trials in the opening verses of his first epistle.
Trials meet needs in our lives
Peter reminds us that life today is a school in which God is training us for usefulness in eternity. Trials discipline us, prepare us for spiritual growth, build faith and teach us important lessons about the ways of God. The phrase “if need be” indicates that God knows there are times when we need to go through certain trials to experience spiritual growth that would not come otherwise.
Trials are tailor-made
Peter speaks of “manifold” trials. The word manifold means variegated or various. God matches the trial with our immediate need and present strength. Just as He knows what we are able to bear, He also knows exactly what irritant we need in order to experience genuine growth and transformation. At times He uses a hammer – a swift blow or series of blows that bring a quick and needed submission. At other times He uses a file – a more lengthy process of scraping and eating away at the rough edges of our life until He has shaped us into His will. And when necessary, He will use the furnace. The furnace attacks with ruthless fury until every ounce of impurity is consumed and nothing is left but pure gold.
Trials are not meant to be easy
Peter said that trials produce “heaviness.” It’s a word that means to experience grief or pain. It is the same word that was used to describe the sorrow that Jesus experienced in Gethsemane. It is also the same word used to describe what one feels at the loss of a loved one. No one should ever minimize the sorrow that trials can bring or speak of it in a cavalier manner. The grief and sorrow are actually a part of the process. A trip into the valley of sorrow has a way of cleansing the soul and reorienting life
Trials are timed and tempered by God
Peter tells us that trials last only “for a season.” Warren Wiersbe said, “When we walk through the furnace of trouble, God keeps his eye on the clock and his hand on the thermostat.” Troubles last just long enough to remove the dross and purify the gold.
Saints and scholars still cannot adequately explain the nagging problem of trials to anyone’s satisfaction. And in all probability some of what I have said will not help the one undergoing present trials. But the testimony is unanimous from those who reflect on their years of walking with God that everything that truly enhanced and enlightened their spiritual existence came through pain and affliction and not through pleasure or times of happiness. Though we can’t explain them, we would be immeasurably poorer without them.