“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 1:6 NAS95)
Why do bad things happen to good people? This is an age-old question that mankind has wrestled with for millennia. We might sharpen the question and ask, “Why do bad things happen to God’s people?” If we are children of God, why do bad things happen to us? Why doesn’t God choose to protect us from all the suffering in this life?
This passage shows us that sometimes it is necessary that the people of God face trials. Why would God ever deem suffering necessary? Because trials that come upon us, if we keep looking to the Lord, will cause us to grow in our faith. As Peter says, trials prove our faith. Trials refine and purify our faith just as fire refines gold. When we learn to lean on God through our trials, we will find that we are spiritually strengthened.
There is no doubt that trials can be very painful, and yet here is a powerful picture of joy mingled with pain. The Christians that Peter is writing to are suffering. They are distressed. They are going through fiery trials of suffering for Christ (1 Peter 4:12-13), and yet they simultaneously have a great joy. They are greatly rejoicing even though they are distressed by various trials. What is the source of this joy? It is everything that Peter reminded the saints of in the previous verses. Take a look at 1 Peter 1:3-5. They greatly rejoice, even in trials, because they have been born again to a living hope in Christ. They greatly rejoice, even in trials, because they have an inheritance reserved for them in heaven—an inheritance that is “imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away.” They greatly rejoice, even in trials, because they are protected by God through faith for a salvation that will one day be revealed to them.
Yes, it is necessary that we face trials in this life. Are you going through a season of trial right now? Hold on to the Lord! He will never leave you or forsake you! If you will cling to Him in faith and reflect on His promises, even in the midst of suffering He can cause you to “…greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory…” (1 Peter 1:8b NAS95)