How are you doing today? Over the next couple of days, we’re going to dive deeper into our perspective regarding trials. Peter uses the phrase “many trials.” The original Greek word literally means “many colors.” Because trials come in all different shapes and sizes, the notion of many colors rings true. Sometimes they are physical. You come down with a cold, you get stuck in bed for weeks, you injure your back, or you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness. At times, trials are financial. You or your spouse lose your job, you find out you owe more taxes than you expected, or your car unexpectedly breaks down. Other times, it’s the pain of something you’ve been waiting for. You thought you’d be married, be pregnant, have started your career, or bought a house by a certain point in your life.
Life can feel like it’s crushing us at times. In the last year, people I love have lost jobs, lost spouses, gone through cancer, had kids go crazy, had friends at school betray them, or have a close friend take their own life.
How in the world can Peter have the audacity to tell us to rejoice in the midst of our pain? A part of me wants to shake Peter and tell him, “You don’t know my situation.”
Anybody else? If you had my situation, Peter, you wouldn’t be telling me to rejoice. You’d be saying, “Sorry, bro, that sucks!”
Now, maybe he would say that first. In fact he uses this phrase, “you have suffered grief.” I love that he doesn’t minimize the struggle. A trial is a trial. Someone else’s struggle may seem easier than yours, but until you are under the weight someone else carries, you should never judge their strength!
Part of walking through trials is recognizing that they do cause pain—emotional, physical, spiritual, relational, financial, and mental pain!
Perhaps your greatest challenge is spiritual. Maybe you’re angry that God is allowing you to go through this. Listen, although I don’t know your situation, I can relate to that emotion.
God, why? Couldn’t you make it easier? Couldn’t you have given me a different struggle? I want her issues, not my issues. I want his problems, not my problems!
What is your trial? What’s the thing you keep hoping would go away? You have looked, searched, and prayed asking God to take this situation away, but it’s still here.
I love the image that Peter gives us about faith that has been tested and purified like gold. When you want to purify gold, you heat it up so that all the impurities come to the surface. Once that happens, it’s much easier to scrape off all the impurities.
I am not a piece of gold, but if I were, I would imagine that the scraping would be painful. I would want to hide when the goldsmith comes out with his scalpel.
That’s how I feel about my trials. Pressure, difficulty, and trials have a way of revealing the impurities. During difficulties, we see nasty traits inside of ourselves. My fear, worry, selfishness, laziness, anger, pride, and insecurity rise to the surface.
The real question is, do I want to get rid of all that stuff? Do you want a faith that is purified, or would you rather just stay as you are now? God is testing your faith, and a faith that has been tested is a faith that can be trusted.
God doesn’t test you because he’s mad at you. God is testing and refining to help you have a faith that is of greater worth than gold. I love that image. Don’t we all value gold? Peter says it would be better to have faith formed through the fire than treasures of gold.
I’ve found Jesus to be a really good friend. He is kind, loving, and gracious. I’ve also found Him to be surprisingly willing to work with our desires. When your deepest desire is to walk by faith, He will use trials to make you into a person of deep character.
When your deepest desire is ease of life and comfort, He may give you space to do life as you wish. But this choice on your part will not be without regret. In fact, it’s very possible that the thing you think you want—a life without hardship or pain—will push you further into the thing you are trying to avoid: pain.
The pain of regret is far worse than the pain of walking with Jesus and embracing a life of faith.
Comfort is not found in ease of life. Instead, it’s found in the fact that you are not alone and your suffering is not without purpose. Every follower of Jesus has walked through trials. Even Jesus, the King of Heaven and Earth, went to a cross and suffered for you.
Unfortunately we don’t get to choose the size, the shape, or duration of our trials. We can’t shorten them or even avoid them. The choice we get to make comes in allowing the trial to do its work in us to make us more like Jesus. God is a God who speaks. He loves you and wants to speak to you as you speak to Him. Today the Holy Spirit is in the room with you.
What is your trial? Write it down. Talk to Him about it. Ask Him for eyes to see how He is using it to shape you. Ask Him to help you endure and persevere. Ask Him to give you a hunger and thirst for righteousness. Ask Him to give you a faith that is of greater worth than gold.