God’s Promises in our Difficulty
Updated: Mar 26, 2021
“There is a spelling test on Friday. Here is your word list. Take the time to study it so you can come prepared.” I remember hearing those words or words similar to that almost every week in grade school. I dreaded spelling tests! I would work on the word list throughout the week, but every Friday, when test time rolled around, it seemed like I forgot everything. They were indeed not a cause for rejoicing.
Like my third-grade teacher Mrs. Stein who gave us a heads up about our spelling tests, Peter gives his readers advance notice about trials and tests they will experience.
“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 ESV)
Peter gives us a couple of promises in our memory verse this month. First, our trials are temporary. Second, our trials have a purpose. These two assurances can help us in our daily walk, especially when we are feeling overwhelmed.
Our trials are temporary
The all-too-common question, “Are we there yet?” coming from the kids in the back seat, is something we never really grow out of. Something is comforting about knowing there is an end in sight, especially if what we are going through is unpleasant. Peter tells us the reason for rejoicing is tied to our sure salvation, not our present circumstances. He wants us to interpret life, the here and now, through the lens of the hope that awaits us.
He is teaching us the value of comparing “…a little while…” with “…an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Cor. 4:17) If we measure our life by hours and days, it seems like forever. If, however, we measure our life in light of eternity, it is only a little while. Our hope isn’t that things will get better here; they may or may not, instead our hope is that this world is not our home. Peter is encouraging us to consider what Paul tells us to do in Colossians,
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1–4 ESV)
If you are growing weary in the things you presently face, ask God to help you see things from an eternal perspective. Satan wants you and me to get discouraged when things drag on, and it seems like they will last forever. God’s promise is the trials we face in this life are temporary.
Our trials have a purpose
Not only do we ask, “How long?”, we also want to know, “What’s the point?” We are easily discouraged when we face difficult and challenging situations that seem aimless, chaotic, or haphazard.
Peter compares our present trials with the process of refining gold. The word “trials” is an “…attempt to learn the nature or character of something.” (BDAG, 793) As gold is heated and melts, impurities can be seen and separated from the gold itself. The trials we go through distinguish genuine faith from the faith that falls away and proves unfruitful like that in Jesus’ parable of the soils in Matthew 13.
A tested faith displays the full beauty of our salvation. Gold that has alloys removed shines brighter than before, so too does our faith. Talking about this refining effect, Paul Tripp gives this helpful reminder “Rather than being signs of inattention, they are sure signs of the zeal of his redemptive love. In grace, he leads you where you didn’t plan to go in order to produce in you what you couldn’t achieve on your own. In these moments, he works to alter the values of your heart so that you let go of your little kingdom of one and give yourself to his kingdom of glory and grace.”
A tested faith is also a strengthened faith. When we experience God’s faithfulness, provision, and care during difficulties, we learn more about who he is. In other words, our faith grows as we understand the nature and character of God. This has been my experience this past month in memorizing these verses. I haven’t been through any significant trial, mostly just day-to-day things, but I have been discouraged and wondered why. As I have reflected on this passage, God has reminded me of how he has taken care of and continues to take care of all these little things. This, in turn, has helped me to trust him with some of the bigger things I tend to worry about.
God is always at work in your life. Each day, he is shaping you more into the image of Christ. A new morning brings new mercy and grace. All that he is doing will “…result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Yours in Christ,