Trails and Faith




So that the genuineness of your faithóbeing more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fireómay be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.NRSV While God may have different purposes in the trials that face his people, one overriding result of all trials is clear: Suffering refines people''s faith. Peter described the genuineness of believers'' faith as being more precious than gold, the most valuable and durable substance of the time. As gold is heated, impurities float to the top and can be skimmed off, leaving extremely valuable "pure gold." Yet gold is not eternal; like everything else on earth, it too will eventually perish. Genuine faith, on the other hand, is indestructible for all eternity. However, it may take the "fire" of trials, struggles, and persecutions to remove impurities and defects. God values a fire-tested (or "stress-tested") faith. All of us have faith that may be mixed with improper attitudes or sinful motivations (sometimes even the good we do is for selfish reasons). In the crucible of life, God our Goldsmith skims off our impurities. Through trials, God burns away our self-reliance and self-serving attitudes, so that our genuineness reflects his glory and brings praise to him. How do trials prove the genuineness of one''s faith? A person living a comfortable life may find it very easy to be a believer. But to keep one''s faith in the face of ridicule, slander, persecution, or even death proves the true value of that faith. The fire of difficulty and suffering tests the genuineness of faith. If believers can trust God and rejoice when surrounded by persecution and when they cannot see the outcome or understand the reason, then their faith has been proved genuine and will not be forgotten by God.
Such faith results in praise and glory and honor. Although it is unclear whether these will be directed to the believers or to Jesus Christ, most likely Peter was encouraging these scattered believers. Their genuine faith would be rewarded by praise, glory, and honor bestowed upon them by God himself when Jesus Christ returns (is revealed) to judge the world and take believers home. WHILE WE WAIT
Christians look toward the return of Jesus, when pain will end and perfect justice begin. Faith will be rewarded and evil will be punished. But what should we do until then?
The Bible''s answer is simple but not easy: Because we know the future, we must faithfully serve God here and now. If today that means resolving a conflict, mending a hurt, working a dull job, confronting a belligerent child, rebuilding a marriage, or just waiting for guidanceódo it all with the joy of God, who will return with his reward!