Of course, we understand that this doesn’t mean we only suffer for a couple of hours. Rather, the “little while” indicates that however long our suffering might last, it will not last forever.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1 Peter 1:3-5

Magnificent promises aren’t they? They’re almost too good to be true. As a matter of fact, that’s why they’re sometimes so hard to believe, particularly when the pain of your circumstances is so overwhelming that you’re on the verge of giving up. Promises like these can seem hollow and unreal, unless we recognize the life situation of those who originally received them.

In this case, the succeeding verses give us the harsh realities of Peter’s original audience:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, as was necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold which perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:6-9

Clearly, then, Peter wrote these words of hope to a group of people in distress, trying to cope with a situation so difficult that he describes it later on as a “fiery ordeal.” Such language implies intense suffering, quite likely due to persecution. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he reminds them of the certainty of their hope to reorient their focus so that they might continue to persevere in the faith. It reassures us that it is precisely these promises that we need to hear when we are so overwhelmed by our difficulties that we lose the proper perspective.

But these passages don’t just reveal the situation of Peter’s readers; they also give God’s perspective on the suffering of believers. It’s an analysis that we would do well to apply to our own sufferings as believers in Christ. The first thing he says is that these sufferings are trials that only last “a little while.” Of course, we understand that this doesn’t mean we only suffer for a couple of hours. Rather, the “little while” indicates that however long our suffering might last, it will not last forever. It will end in God’s perfect time. Of course, since we don’t like pain, it seems as if it’s taking forever to end. But we do need to learn to wait on God, because he has his reasons for what’s going on in our lives.

This brings us to the second thing Peter says about trials: they are “necessary.” This is to say that they’re not random or meaningless accidents that God couldn’t prevent. As hard as it is to accept, these hardships are an integral part of God’s wise, loving dealings with his children. And since they’re necessary, they’re not just things God threw in for the heck of it; they come into our lives because we need them.

We have to endure trials so that “the tested genuineness of our faith...may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Since Peter is giving us a glimpse of God’s perspective, we need to recognize that God doesn’t need to bring us through trials in order that he might know if our faith is genuine. He sees our hearts; he’s the one who gives saving faith in the first place. What Peter is trying to say then is not so much that our perseverance in the face of trials proves the reality of our faith, although that is true. Rather, he is pointing out the ultimate significance of our faith. He is saying that God’s intent in our trials is that he may vindicate our faith at the last day. His purpose in bringing us through suffering is that he might crown our faith with praise, glory and honor when Christ returns. This is another way of saying what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:17: “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.

It’s not that we earn glory from God by our suffering. It is God’s grace from beginning to end. The incomparable weight of glory he intends to bestow on us is a gracious reward that we never earned. Neither is this glory simply for our exaltation. In the first place, our faith comes from him and is sustained by him, so that as he gives us praise, glory and honor for our perseverance in the face of trials, the commendation we receive from him redounds to his own glory, honor and praise. In this light, all our trials are truly for our good; we can’t even fathom the extent of the good that God intends for us!It is this perspective that we must always keep before us in the midst of the difficulties we will face as believers. Granted, it is hard to maintain because our tears often blur our vision. But that’s the character of biblical faith: it is faith in what we cannot see. Peter himself recognizes it in this passage. He points out that we love Jesus Christ though we have not seen him. We believe in Jesus though we do not now see him. Mind you, it’s not a leap in the dark. It is solidly founded on the truthful testimony of credible individuals bearing witness to historical events. It’s not blind. It is, in fact, most clear-sighted because it views life through the lens of God’s promises. Most importantly, it is not in vain, because as Peter points out, though we may not now see him, there is a day coming when Jesus will be revealed and we will receive the outcome of our faith, the salvation of our souls.

Till that day, my friend, may you ever encourage yourself with the gracious and faithful promises of God that you may live the Christian life with joy in the midst of all your trials.

Topics: Christian Living