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)
Intense, prolonged suffering can bring believers to the point of despair; filled with protest and, like Job, wishing they had been carried directly from the womb to the tomb (Job 10:19). This is the constant reality of suffering. The Apostle Peter understood this and counseled his afflicted readers with the above encouragement. From these verses you should be encouraged by five truths.
First, trials are temporary. They are “for a little while” in contrast to eternity with Jesus. More than that, your “light momentary affliction is preparing for [you] and eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Remember, the “sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed” to you (Romans 8:18).
Second, trials only come to us if they are “necessary.” God, in his infinite wisdom, knows exactly what kinds of trials must be designed to stimulate the growth necessary for our own spiritual health. For example, God permitted Satan to give Paul a “thorn in the flesh.” But it was for his own good, and for a specific purpose, to stunt the growth of cancerous pride (2 Corinthians 12:7–10).
Third, trials are distressing. The word “grieved” does not refer merely to sorrow in trials, but to the mental effects of suffering. The psalmist knew and admitted this: “Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none” (Psalm 69:20).
Fourth, trials are diverse; they are “various” in form. They come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they afflict our bodies and other times our minds. Sometimes they disturb our comfort zones and other times our loved ones. No matter their source, trials provide opportunities to be trained in godliness as God uses them to discipline us toward Christlikeness (Hebrews 12:6, 11).
Fifth, trials are refining to your faith, “though it is tested by fire.” God does not ordain trials to set you up for failure, but to prove the “genuineness” of your faith. Trials heat up the furnace of your faith, giving God the opportunity to purify it, and prove to you that it is “more precious than gold” (Cf. Job 23:10). As this process takes place, and you continue to believe in him whom you cannot see, the ultimate outcome of your faith is your salvation (1 Peter 1:8-9).
Trials not only prepare you for eternity. They make you ache for it. And that is a good thing.