Trails and Faith
So that the genuineness of your faithóbeing more precious than gold
that, though perishable, is tested by fireómay be found to result in
praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.NRSV
While God may have different purposes in the trials that face his
people, one overriding result of all trials is clear: Suffering
refines people''s faith. Peter described the genuineness of believers''
faith as being more precious than gold, the most valuable and durable
substance of the time. As gold is heated, impurities float to the top
and can be skimmed off, leaving extremely valuable "pure gold." Yet
gold is not eternal; like everything else on earth, it too will
eventually perish. Genuine faith, on the other hand, is indestructible
for all eternity. However, it may take the "fire" of trials,
struggles, and persecutions to remove impurities and defects. God
values a fire-tested (or "stress-tested") faith. All of us have faith
that may be mixed with improper attitudes or sinful motivations
(sometimes even the good we do is for selfish reasons). In the
crucible of life, God our Goldsmith skims off our impurities. Through
trials, God burns away our self-reliance and self-serving attitudes,
so that our genuineness reflects his glory and brings praise to him.
How do trials prove the genuineness of one''s faith? A person living a
comfortable life may find it very easy to be a believer. But to keep
one''s faith in the face of ridicule, slander, persecution, or even
death proves the true value of that faith. The fire of difficulty and
suffering tests the genuineness of faith. If believers can trust God
and rejoice when surrounded by persecution and when they cannot see
the outcome or understand the reason, then their faith has been proved
genuine and will not be forgotten by God.
Such faith results in praise and glory and honor. Although it is
unclear whether these will be directed to the believers or to Jesus
Christ, most likely Peter was encouraging these scattered believers.
Their genuine faith would be rewarded by praise, glory, and honor
bestowed upon them by God himself when Jesus Christ returns (is
revealed) to judge the world and take believers home.
WHILE WE WAIT
Christians look toward the return of Jesus, when pain will end and
perfect justice begin. Faith will be rewarded and evil will be
punished. But what should we do until then?
The Bible''s answer is simple but not easy: Because we know
the future, we must faithfully serve God here and now. If today that
means resolving a conflict, mending a hurt, working a dull job,
confronting a belligerent child, rebuilding a marriage, or just
waiting for guidanceódo it all with the joy of God, who will return
with his reward!