Tag: persecution of Christians

Reflections on Christian Trials and Persecutions, Part 2*

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

Perhaps the lack of suffering for the cause of Christ in the modern Western church is due to the lack of nerve on the part of the church to challenge our contemporary world with the message of the cross and to live uncompromisingly according to the teachings of Jesus. Those who live faithful lives in an unbelieving world will find opposition to both their ideas and their practices, even if it doesn’t result in actual persecution or physical danger.

Peter also says there are “various trials, or “all kinds of trials.” The word is sometimes translated “manifold” (KJV). James uses the same word, “trials of many kinds” (Jas 1:2). It is lit. “variegated,” or “many-colored.” You’ll get through one trial, only to find that another of an entirely different hue is waiting around the next bend of life. 

From whatever the source, whatever their “color,” trials may sometimes come that are particularly hard, or crushing. When they do, there’s no point in trying to pretend there’s no pain, or to put on a brave front just to appear more “spiritual.” And neither should one ever try to minimize or explain away the suffering of another who is going through some fiery trial.

” . . . though now for a little while . . . you may have had to suffer.” (I Peter 1:6).

Trials don’t last forever. They are “for a season” (KJV).  One writer says, “When God permits His children to go through the furnace, He keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat” (Wiersbe).

If we resist the trial, if we only seek a way out of it, then we work against God’s purpose in it. He may have to “reset the clock.” The important issue is not “that” we get out of a trial, but “what” we get out of it. If we submit to God, He won’t allow us to remain one moment too long in it. The important thing is that we learn the lesson He wants to teach us, and that we bring glory to Him in our trial.

These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed  (1 Peter 1:7)

Helen Keller said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” That is certainly true of Christian character, and particularly true of the faith that undergirds it. God wants to strengthen your faith and make something beautiful of your life. He sees the impurities there, and He leaves you in the crucible long enough to burn away everything that mars you, or that keeps you from being perfected in your faith. This is because He sees your faith as being the most important thing in your life. 

… The person who abandons his faith when the going gets tough proves that he really had no genuine faith at all. God doesn’t allow trials to come to you to destroy your faith, but to validate it, to prove its genuineness to you.  He sees your faith as precious, and He wants you to see it that way also.  

…Whatever trials you may endure in this life can’t begin to compare to the glory that God has in store for you. And these very trials are an essential part of the process.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8-9)

…We rejoice because we’re not just waiting for glory, we’re already receiving it. Such rejoicing is absolutely impossible apart from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Believers, while perhaps not rejoicing over their trials, can nevertheless rejoice in their trials.  When you truly love and trust Christ, you can experience joy even in the worst of times. And each new trial can be an opportunity to learn more about Him, to learn how sweet and sure and sufficient He is. And in that experience He produces a joy that Peter says is “inexpressible and glorious.” Think of it! In your trial comes a joy so great you can’t describe it. Charles Spurgeon used to say, “Little faith will take your soul to heaven, but great faith will bring heaven to your soul.” No matter the trial, if you have the faith to love and trust Christ in the midst of it you can actually experience some of the glory of heaven.

The prophets foresaw the entire panorama of the ministry of Christ. They didn’t know how much time would separate the Lord’s sufferings from the full manifestation of His glory, but they clearly saw the future in those terms. Christ is the center of history! He is the One by whom history is defined. And Peter makes the history of Christ the pattern for the history of every Christian when he says, “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Pet. 4:13). This is the meaning of history, the flow of history, this is the direction everything is headed, the final unveiling of the glory of Jesus Christ! Everything else is meaningful only in relation to the facts concerning the work of Christ. That ancient prophets can look forward to the coming of Christ with such accuracy should cause us to look back to His First Coming with confidence and forward to His promised Second Coming with assurance and hope. This is a matter of Divine revelation. 

*continuation of Richard’s study of 1 Peter  

©Richard L. Blake  

February 2022