The Apostle Peter wrote the book we know as 1 Peter to encourage and strengthen the persecuted Christians who were dispersed throughout various provinces in the Roman Empire. In this passage, 1 Peter 1:6-9, Peter taught about the importance of enduring trials in order to strengthen our faith and receive the ultimate reward of salvation.
Peter began by acknowledging that the trials we face in life can be difficult and painful, which often causes us to feel grief and sorrow. However, in spite of these trials it is important for us to rejoice because we know God will not waste our pain. Instead, God will use them for our benefit and growth. Through our trials, Peter wrote, our faith is tested and refined, just like gold is refined by fire. This refining process strengthens our character and prepares us for life in the Kingdom.
It's important to note that Peter didn’t say that suffering is optional for Christians. In fact, he wrote that trials are "necessary" for our growth and development. This is difficult to hear, especially when we're in the midst of a particularly when we are growing though a trial. However, it's crucial to remember that God is able to use all our experiences, good and bad, to form us in the image of Jesus.
Peter goes on to say that faith refined by the fire of trials and hardships is more valuable than gold. While gold is precious and desired for many purpose, including jewelry and money, it is still perishable and can be destroyed. Our faith, on the other hand, is eternal and cannot be taken away from us. It is through our faith that we receive salvation. This salvation, and eternal relationship with God, is the most important goal of our lives.
It is interesting that Peter acknowledged the reality that we have not physically seen Jesus, but that reality hasn’t stopped us from trusting and loving him. Our faith is not based on our physical interaction with Jesus, but on the truth taught to us, the example of other Christians, and the difference following Jesus made in our lives. This faith brings us both joy and hope, even in the midst of our trials.
It's important to note that Peter doesn’t say that we should be happy about our trials themselves. Instead, he encouraged us to find joy God’s love as He uses our trials to refine our faith and form us in the image of Jesus. This joy is not a surface-level happiness that comes and goes with our circumstances, rather it is a deep and abiding sense of peace that comes from knowing that we are loved and cared for by our Heavenly Father.
1 Peter 1:6-9 teaches us that our trials serve a greater purpose in our lives. They are not meaningless or purposeless, but are opportunities for us to grow and develop as Christians. As we endure the trials of life with faith and perseverance, we can trust that God is using them to refine our character and to strengthen our hope. We should rejoice, even in the midst of our suffering, knowing that God is with us and working all things together for our good.