In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7 [NIV]

One Wednesday morning some years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Christians who were suffering for their faith. Two were young lads in their teens. At their baptism they had been disowned, some family members seeking their deaths. They had lost everything and were mostly living in hiding in a strange city. But they glowed. They shone with the joy and love of Jesus. They were seeing others come to faith. Like Peter’s readers they were finding cause to “greatly rejoice”, even in especially trying times.

Peter understands that the experience of suffering does something to our faith. Suffering in the life of a Christian is never pointless, never purposeless, though we may never understand it completely. Suffering tests and proves faith (v.7). If you’re buying a car you take it for a test drive. If you’re a teacher who wants to know what your pupils are capable of you test them. The testing circumstances of Peter’s readers have been grievous, but they have tested and proved their faith. They are shown to be “the real deal”. Jesus teaches something similar in the parable of the sower when he says that the seed on rocky soil has no root, when the sun blazes – or trouble and persecution come – the plant withers because it has no root (Mark 4:5-6, 16-17). Surviving in suffering means that you have roots.

Once more Peter gives his readers an eternal perspective. Their faith that has been tested and proved genuine will result in “praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Heaven will resound with the praise of Jesus. But he will also look to praise those who have been faithful to him. And knowing that truth was maybe why those young lads who had suffered so much were glowing that day. I think they knew the approval of Jesus.

Read the passage again. Slowly. What else is God showing you through these words?

Pray for those suffering for their faith today. Pray for those you know who are suffering in other circumstances. Ask that their faith would be shown to be genuine. And ask that yours would be too.

Olly Mears
m2o Church Rugby - St. Matthew & St. Oswald

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