According to 1 Peter 1:7, God’s purpose in our suffering is “that the genuineness of [our] 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.” God does not ordain trials to set us up for failure, but to prove the reality of our faith by using the fires of suffering to humble us in order to conform us to the image of Christ. The Holy Spirit compares this sanctifying work of God to the process of purifying valuable metals; our faith being more precious than gold itself, which is perishable. Kenneth Wuest provides a great illustration:
The picture here is of an ancient goldsmith who puts his crude gold ore in a crucible, subjects it to intense heat, and thus liquefies the mass. The impurities rise to the surface and are skimmed off. When the metalworker is able to see the reflection of his face clearly mirrored in the surface of the liquid, he takes it off the fire, for he knows that the contents are pure gold. So it is with God and His child. He puts us in the crucible of Christian suffering, in which process sin is gradually put out of our lives, our faith is purified from the slag of unbelief that somehow mingles with it so often, and the result is the reflection of the face of Jesus Christ in the character of the Christian. This, above all, God the Father desires to see. Christlikeness is God’s ideal for His child. Christian suffering is one of the most potent means to that end.
When we submit to the sovereignty of God in our trials, and trust the One who always does what is good for us, we become more and more like Christ and learn to say with Job, “When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).