In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV
Hmmm. God allows trials in our lives to test how genuine our faith is.
Perhaps you don’t find that thought particularly comforting. After all, who really looks forward to going through trials? And let’s be honest. Testing our faith doesn’t seem like a very kind thing for God to do.
But here’s something to consider, beloved. What if God allows those trials as a direct result of His merciful love toward us? After all, our opening scripture reveals that various trials will grieve us if necessary. The wording suggests that if we didn’t need them, we wouldn’t have them.
Think it through with me, dear one. God already knows whether or not our faith is genuine, so He doesn’t test our faith for His benefit. That leaves only one possibility. He allows trials so that we can see how genuine our faith is.
I can’t help thinking of Jesus’ words to Peter on the night of His arrest.
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” Luke 22:31-34
Peter felt pretty sure of himself. Look at his words in verse 33. “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” History reveals that wasn’t the case. Fear drove Peter to deny that he even knew Jesus. Not once, but three times. Then he heard that rooster crow.
I’m sure Peter believed those words when he said them. He thought his faith would stand up against any test.
But Jesus saw beyond what Peter could see. He saw straight into his heart, the same way He sees into yours and mine. And He knew what Peter believed about himself wasn’t the truth.
So in His love for Peter, Jesus did the unimaginable. He allowed Satan to sift him.
I confess I can’t type those words without tears. You see, like Peter, I’ve had a sifting. Like Peter, I believed some things about myself that weren’t actually true. And like Peter, I needed to know what I was really capable of.
Jesus explains why in John 8:32.
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
You and I will never be free from sin’s hold on us until we can acknowledge it has us.
And that’s the purpose of our trials, dear one. They reveal the true nature of our character. Not for God’s benefit, but for ours.
You see, sin that entangles and controls us has the power to cost us dearly. That’s why the writer of Hebrews commands us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles (Hebrews 12:1 NIV).”
Peter himself offers a sobering warning in his second epistle.
For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 2 Peter 2:20-21
Jesus sees straight into our hearts, dear one. He knows the things that threaten to entangle and overcome us, to pull us away from His promises. And He longs to set us free so that we can overcome them instead. Like Peter, He wants to transform our character and set our feet firmly on the Rock. He wants us to live the promise of Romans 8:37.
In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Beloved, Jesus promises blessings to the one who conquers. Perhaps you’ll notice a common theme in Jesus’ words to the seven churches.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7
“Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. … The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.” Revelation 2:10-11
“To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.” Revelation 2:17
“Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations … And I will give him the morning star.” Revelation 2:25-28
“The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” Revelation 3:5
“Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.” Revelation 3:10-12
“The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” Revelation 3:21
Do you see it, dear one? Every blessing Jesus spoke of goes to the one who conquers, to the overcomer. Our trials provide us the opportunity to overcome.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4