The Refining Fire of Trials

God is at work in our lives! We shall trust that He is actively working in/through our difficulties. Jesus clearly promises that we will have troubles “tribulations” in this life. The word tribulation creates a “word” image of being crushed, specifically by heavy weight. Imagine a large stone or heavy stones being placed on your chest. As each stone is added it becomes more difficult to breath. Isn’t life like this at times? One difficulty then another comes upon us. Join me as I consider six truths about God’s use of trials. All scripture passages are from the New King James Version online:

https://biblehub.com/nkjv/1_peter/1.htm

I also include several links to Got Questions, Crosswalk.com, and other articles for you to explore terms and significance in greater detail.

A fog of difficulties descends upon us that obscures our walk with God

Truth 1: Jesus promises us that we will be face tribulations- John 16:33

Christianity.com defines and summarizes the key terms and relevant passages

https://www.christianity.com/wiki/christian-terms/what-are-trials-and-tribulations.html

God’s Word teaches that we are pilgrims, and strangers in this world (Hebrews 11). A false gospel promises prosperity or ease in this life. The physical “present” world and it’s fallen, corrupted world order isn’t our home nor eternal destination! John warns us in 1 John about the foolishness of loving the world while claiming to love Christ. The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan explores the journey of faith.

Truth 2: God Chooses and Sanctifies Us Through Jesus’ Atonement and Holy Spirit’s work

1 Peter 1:1-2

Greeting to the Elect Pilgrims

1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace be multiplied.”

Election (simply defined) refers to God effectively bringing about His plan of redemption to save those He redeems. This concept appears in numerous passages in scriptures. Got questions summarizes this term (for those desiring more information) and the concept of “predestination.” Both articles defines the terms accurately and concisely.

https://www.gotquestions.org/doctrine-of-election.html

https://www.gotquestions.org/predestination.html

Let’s focus on what God mercifully does for His people. First, we see Holy Spirit working to sanctify us so that we will obey Jesus. This obey refers to trusting in Christ’s atonement instead of our self-righteousness. Second, we recognize the term “be sprinkled” (NASB) and “sprinkling” (NKJV) blood of Jesus Christ. Peter is referring to the Jewish practice of blood being sprinkled on the altar and the people to atone for sins. Here’s a great explanation of the significance:

https://www.gotquestions.org/sprinkling-of-blood.html

Truth 3: God’s Mercy bring us to a new birth and living hope
1 Peter 1:3-5 A Heavenly Inheritance

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

In God’s mercy, we find new life literally “to beget again.” This new life includes

  • a living hope, which we find in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead,
  • permanent, pure, non-fading inheritance in Christ,
  • kept by God’s power, (He holds on to us) and
  • salvation ready to be revealed through faith in the last time.

God’s redeemed are trophies of His Grace that will be displayed when Christ returns at His Second Coming. This concept appears in the other writings of Peter, Paul, John, and the Book of Hebrews. Our hope rests on Jesus’ Return and Renewal of all Things. Likewise our hope is alive because He lives!

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/seniors/what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-trophy-of-grace.html

Truth 4: Trials have a purpose–it’s not meaningless when we’re distressed!

6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.”

This seems absolutely crazy that we would rejoice in our trials much less rejoice with “joy inexpressible”! How is this even possible? That’s my question when I read this passage. God’s Living Word is always true even when it “seems” to be strange or impossible! So what does this mean?

We can rejoice even in our trials because:

  • genuine faith is valuable and desirable (more than gold),
  • our faith faith pleases and honors God so that,
  • we will glorify Jesus when He returns as,
  • we love and believe in Jesus without “seeing” Him, and ultimately
  • this faith leads to salvation–effective, tested outcome of faith due to trials.

Simply explained, trials refine our faith making us into persons who glorify and please our Heavenly Father. We can rejoice with “joy inexpressible and full of glory” because our trials and suffering have a purpose greater than worldly comfort, wealth, or happiness. James also instructs us to find joy in trials in James 1:2-4. God provides us with joy that is incomparable to mere situational happiness that fades. For more,

https://www.gotquestions.org/joy-trials.html

Gold and other precious metals are refined by intense heat and/or chemical processes. The heat process causes the impurities or dross to “float” to the top where it can be removed. This “slag” is the other minerals that keep the gold or silver from being pure. Note the designation 999.9 pure on the bar below. Gold is mostly mined from rocks in the form of various ores. Heat or chemicals are used depending on the mining operation to refine the precious metal out from other minerals. Helpful source: https://www.geologypage.com/2019/04/what-is-gold-mining-how-is-gold-mined.html

Our lives (as fallen humans) are contaminated with pride, selfishness, vanity, and numerous other impurities that lessen our spiritual “shine” and purity. Just as silver tarnishes and has to be polished, God uses trials to mold and purify us. Like gold nuggets precious to the miner, our souls need refining by God’s process.

Also, trials come upon us because we live in a world tainted by sin. Suffering, injustice, frustration, anxiety, and death come to us all. Other people will sin against us and cause us harm just as we sin against others ourselves. Hard times leads us to desire a better, perfect world that only exists with Christ. A comfortable, easy life is dangerous because it leads one to focus and desire present comfort instead of the future and eternity with God.

Truth 5: Our salvation and God’s grace through Christ is the fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan.

1 Peter 1:10-12

10Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.”

God’s plan to redeem fallen humanity and creation starts immediately after the fall in Genesis 3. This plan appears in God’s choosing of a man (Abraham), later a people (the Hebrews), and ultimately sending Jesus as Messiah the Christ. The Old Testament Prophets and faithful followers were aware of various aspects and the promise of a coming Messiah. Apparently, even the angels wanted to know more! The Gospel is Good News that many longed to see come to fruition in Jesus’ birth, ministry, and resurrection.

Truth 6: Application of This Passage: Be Alert and Holy

1 Peter 1:13-16

Living Before God Our Father

13Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”’

Since God has given His Good News and redeemed us into a living hope in Him; we are to

  1. gird up–also translated NASB “prepare your minds for action”–be ready,
  2. be sober–means to be “aware” or on “guard”,
  3. place hope “completely” NASB or “fully” on God’s grace as revealed in Christ,
  4. obey as children of God,
  5. turn away from “former lusts”–wrong desires, and
  6. be Holy as God is Holy.–quoted from Leviticus 19:2

For more about what it means to be “holy as God is holy” check out this resource:

https://www.gotquestions.org/be-holy-for-I-am-holy.html

As God’s redeemed we live by faith and hope! God is at work in our trials and difficulties to make us more like Him. Upon His return may He find us walking faithfully and with courage before Him! Our lives specifically how we respond to trials and grief is our witness to the lost around us. God wants us to be a testimony of His Grace and Presence in our lives. Every great testimony starts with a soul lost or crushed in darkness!

I write these words as one who fights to remain faithful. This is a daily battle that leaves one bruised and weary. Trials are not easy. Discouragement and hopelessness stalk like a hungry lion waiting to pounce on us during our dark times in life. Grief, loss, disappointment, and other numerous bad experiences are opportunities to grow closer to Christ! Knowing that He’s still at work and has a far, better place prepared for those who love Him. If you’re in a difficult time, make some time to read the following chapters Romans 8, Hebrews 11, John 16-17, and Psalm 103.

Invite God’s Word and Holy Spirit comfort you with His truths! Remember that God loves us perfectly. He loves us enough to discipline and purify us when we would rather be comfortable and weak. Through His grace, strength, and hope you shall overcome!

May God grant you courage, hope, wisdom, and discernment to perceive His presence in your life during times of trial! I write this article as one who finds hope and courage in Christ,

Published by leestanfill@yahoo.com

Just a pilgrim walking each day with Jesus and hoping to encourage others along the path.

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