Text: 1 Peter 1:3-9 | Listen to Message
Christians don’t live by wishful thinking or a vaguely positive feeling. We don’t make a blind leap of faith and then take a “wait and see” approach. We have a new and living hope – because our hope is nothing less than our Risen Savior, Jesus Christ.
Thus, Christian hope is an exclamation point, not a question mark.
If we functionally believed this good news, it would completely transform our perspective on trials (which the Bible sometimes refers to as tests). And yet trials/tests pose one of the biggest existential threats to our hope. Though the Bible says nothing threatens our hope – because nothing threatens the promises of God – many painful and difficult things threaten our enjoyment of this truth. Many experiences cause us to feel like our hope is at risk. So Peter’s words that address these trials in the context of our living hope are as relevant and encouraging as ever.
1. Trials are temporary.
Remember that the trials of this life are only “for a little while.” I know when you’re in the middle of them they can feel like they’re lasting forever. 30 seconds is just a blip on the radar, but it feels like a long time if someone’s sitting on your chest. But this, too, shall pass.
2. Trials are necessary.
For the believer, trials are never meaningless or absurd. To the contrary, they’re necessary for building the kind of character and faith that’s only formed by time under tension. Just as you’ll never grow a physical muscle without resistance, you’ll never grow a spiritual muscle without circumstances that stretch you and stress you, but ultimately cause you to grow in your dependence on God.
3. Trials are varied in form.
Your trials bear some similarities to other people’s trials, but they’re also different. They’re unique to you. They come in different shapes and sizes because God doesn’t have a “one size fits all” approach to your sanctification! He knows exactly what you need.
4. Trials are to test and purify your faith.
Peter illustrates this point in verse 7 by a saying our faith is even more precious than gold. Gold melts at 1,948 degrees F. If you were to take something that claims to be gold, and it’s melting at a lower temperature, than you know you have an alloy – a mixture of cheaper, more common metals. Fortunately, there are processes for removing those cheaper metals so that you’re left with pure gold.
This is how God is using existential trials in your life. Yes, he’s testing the genuineness of your faith. Not for his sake, but for yours. He’s either showing you you’re not really a believer, or you’re not really depending on him, or you are. But that’s only half the story:
Trials are not meant merely to “show you what you’re made of,” they’re meant to refine and transform what you’re made of!
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
(How Firm A Foundation, Robert Keen, 1787)
5. Trials are ultimately glorifying to Christ.
The ultimate purpose and goal of every trial you suffer is that when you stand before God one day, complete in Christ, every test will “be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Yes, you will miss out on the praise and glory and honor of the world by choosing to follow Christ. Christian faith and practice will cause you to forfeit many of the hopes that our culture holds dear. But one day you’ll praise the Lamb who was slain and you will heap glory and honor on his name, because he brought you safely through. Not one word of all his promises failed. You’ll be free, you’ll be home, and you’ll inherent eternal life with the Person who embodies all your ultimate hopes.