In 1Peter 1:6-7 we read, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (NIV)
This a truly encouraging scripture! It’s written to those who have a faith in Jesus. Because of our relationship with Him, no matter what happens in our lives – no matter the trials, tribulations and tragedies – the enduring hope is that one day we will be reunited with Him and everything else will dissolve and fade away. While recently reading it again, the phrase “in a little while” jumped out at me.
Peter is writing to Christians who are being persecuted for their faith and are undergoing severe suffering. Instead of commiserating with them or sharing sympathetic words or even entertaining a pity-party on their behalf; he tells them, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith...”
A little while - can seem like a life time or even a life sentence when you are faced with trials. It can seem like a never-ending season, especially if years have gone by. It can cause all types of responses in people. Some might ask the question, ‘how long Lord, how long?’ Others may question whether God can save the day and protect them from their ordeal. Is God good, others may ask? Some might question if God was even with them. In the context that Peter is writing, they might have asked if God truly cared that they were living in the far regions of a foreign land; lonely, without family and friends? Why would a loving God send them there? Wouldn’t a caring, compassionate and loving God bring about a breakthrough and end their trial? “Why me Lord” might be a haunting question as we walk the long night of waiting.
Recently, someone asked me a question regarding a health scare I was facing. They asked, “Do you ever ask God, ‘why you’?” I could honestly say I hadn’t. In fact, I said to her, “why not me.” Being a Christian doesn’t mean we will live a fairy tale existence with absolutely no trouble in it. There are Christians all over the world, even in our city who have been confronted with trials and tribulations I cannot even imagine or begin to comprehend. The reality is no matter who we are, we are guaranteed to face them. But what is so comforting, is that we are never alone in whatever we are facing. Our Heavenly Father loves us, he never abandons us or leaves us alone. He is fully committed to using whatever we face to draw us closer to him and to strengthening our faith. Everything he allows in our lives is not to break, destroy or weaken us; but rather to strengthen us and our faith in him. God is not a puppet that we can pull the strings and he does what we want, when we want. Faith isn’t some magic formula that can get us whatever we want from God. No, He is God! He is the Potter, we are the clay.
It is by faith we are saved, and it is by faith that we continue to work out our salvation daily. The quality of our faith is important to God and he is committed to purifying it. He allows trials to do this. Faith is the ability to trust God even when life isn’t going well or going the way we would like it to go. Faith is patiently waiting and persevering through the delays, no matter how long; and never doubting God has us and will work it all out for us because he loves us. Faith is believing that our loving Father has a bigger plan and He can work through any situation to bring about good in our lives. Ultimately our faith is being tested in the trials, just as fire tests and purifies gold, and when our faith remains strong, we can rest in this confident assurance: “It will result in much praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”
Our God is always faithful; and always means always – that’s for all eternity. He is faithful even in persecution, in loss, in delay and in every challenge, we face. We need to believe that wonderful joy is ahead because He will come through for us in the end. So, let’s heed Peter’s advice and be truly glad.