‘Salvation-joy’ amid painful trials
Dear PRCW members and readers: 1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
The Apostle Peter is calling his readers to rejoice even amid painful experiences. In this section, we see a number of elements that bring out this calling to us as believers.
1. Perspective of trials
Let’s start with the phrase, “though now for a little while you have been grieved by various trials.” He uses the word ‘now’. Now at this time, at this very moment you have trials. There is ‘now’ and there is ‘then’.
So this word ‘now’ reminds us that we live in the here and now but this life is not everything. There is a ‘then’ coming. He is drawing on this life as he compares it to eternity.
It is like this. Most guys that I have played hockey with are average players. Some are better than others, but even the better ones can never be as good as a professional. Compared to the professional there is a real difference.
Peter is using a comparison. He is saying that the trials of this life, they only last for a while in comparison to the blessings that never end in eternity. Even if your whole life is trial filled, it still is compared to a moment. Sometimes trials last a lifetime. That still is a little while compared to eternity. We have to understand this in order to have the right perspective on life. We won’t understand it otherwise…
2. Source of trials
Verse 6 also says “though now for a little *if need be*”, which means “if it is appropriate”, or “if it is fitting”.
This reminds us that trials do happen, but who says that they are fitting? Obviously the answer is: God. That means there is a source of our trials. If they come, it is because they are appropriate according to the loving care of our God.
Peter’s point is you can trust the source. You don’t have to understand it all. God does.
3. Reality in trials
Verse 6 further says ‘we are grieved by trials.’ This word is an emotional word that involves grief, which is a response to testing. It means “to make sorrowful or heavy”. Trials make you sad. This is the same word that is used for Jesus who knew great distress, just before He went to the cross. So it isn’t wrong to be grieved. It is not a sin to be sad when trials come.
That’s why we don’t have to pretend that everything is alright. There are times when we struggle. But there are two types of responses – there is grief with hope and there is grief without hope.
There is a kind of distress accompanied by hopelessness that can lead to drug and alcohol abuse. But that’s not the kind of distress that a believer can have. He has great hope. He can keep things in perspective, he knows who the source of his trials is, and he knows the reality of the Lord.
He is full of hope. In fact there are ways that we are to handle our trials, which Peter continues to describe.
4. Joy in trials
When we go back to the beginning of verse 6, he says, “In this you greatly rejoice…”
The phrase “in this” is everything that is described in verses 3-5 about the fact that God has begotten us to a living hope, with an inheritance incorruptible that will not fade away. It is amazing that we’re protected by God for this heritage.
All these things are meant in the phrase ‘in this’. In this, we rejoice greatly.
The word for ‘greatly rejoice’ is one word. It’s uniquely a Christian word, not a classical Greek word – a word for salvation-joy. What comes out of our hearts in thankfulness to God. It is our joy that we have in God, in Christ, in our salvation – very different from the temporary happiness that we have, which is based on the circumstances of life like the happiness we have when get new kitchen cupboards or a newly installed dishwasher. That’s happiness based on circumstances. It comes and goes.
This is talking about a joy that rises above earthly circumstances.
We can rejoice in God even when life is tough. That is what we find in Him. That’s our joy in trials.
5. Confidence in trials
Put brackets around the middle phrase, (“being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire”) and the verse reads “that the genuineness of your faith…may be found to praise, honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
And this sentence together ties in with what come before about why trials are necessary. Why are they necessary? “that the genuineness of your faith…may be found to praise, honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
What Peter is saying is: though we don’t understand trials, we can be confident that the results of our trials is praise, honour and glory at the revelation of Christ when He comes again.
Trials are a demonstration that our faith is genuine. Consider:
• This is not emphasizing merely the purification of faith but the demonstration of faith. Not gold being purified by fire, but gold verified by fire. How do we know that? For one the word ‘trial’ means testing – the proving of what is true and real. When you’re on trial it is to see that you are telling the truth and are living the truth.
• Trials demonstrate whether or not our faith is real.
• The word ‘tested’ means to determine whether or not it is valuable.
• Peter’s illustration is: How do you know that gold is real? Say you’re a miner. How do you know you’ve got real gold, and not pyrite (‘fools’ gold). Some one can say to a miner, ‘I don’t believe you. That stuff in your hands looks fake.’ If it is tested, you know it is real.
But Peter’s point goes beyond that because gold is not going to last! Even it can be burned and purified, and it will eventually be destroyed with this earth, at the end to time. You can’t take your stocks and your investments with you into heaven. Your faith is far more precious than that.
The price of gold today on the market is around $1700 per ounce. That’s quite expensive. I’d imagine not many of us could easily put our money into a lot of gold.
But faith in the Lord is much more precious to Him. He treasures us in Him, and proves that our faith is genuine by testing. That’s why that word ‘tested’ is used. He demonstrates that your faith is precious by the fire of testing.
It hurts now. It does not mean that it is easy now, but the result is going to be praise, honour and glory at the revelation of Christ. All three are actions where Christ receives the glory through our lives.
Another important point here is that God knows that our faith is real because He’s given it to us. He has saved us. So we don’t say God is trying to figure out if our faith is real or not. We say that God is ‘showing off’ that our faith is real. If He has caused you to be born again, He knows your faith is real by His power.
That is what brings us real joy. Joy is not in knowing everything; joy is in knowing the Lord.
Pastor Rich Anjema