By Pastor Ted R. House
The book of First Peter is primarily about suffering for our faith in Christ. In our lifetime in America, I believe that we are going to have more suffering for the cause of Christ than ever before. The book of First Peter can help us in trials, temptations, and testings. When we go through trials, focusing on our salvation can give us hope, knowing that this life is not all that there is for us. I Peter 1:3 says that we have: "... a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead". I Peter 1:6 connects the first five verses with the next four verses using the word “wherein”. The Bible tells us that we can have hope, and greatly rejoice because of our salvation. It is because we can know for sure that we are saved from ever going to Hell that we can rejoice in times of heaviness through manifold temptations!
The suffering is only for a season, not for all eternity! I Peter 1:6-9: "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." During times of suffering and seasons of heaviness we should rejoice. The word “manifold” means all types of trials whether it be sorrows, physical illnesses, or various temptations. It covers anything that we might be going through, and we are to rejoice through it. It does not say that when we are going through trials we are to enjoy it, it says we are to rejoice. We are able to rejoice because we are believers, rooted in our salvation and we know that we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God. When the billows of sorrows and trials roll, we can still rejoice in the hope of our salvation.
What is the purpose of suffering? I Peter 1:7 answers that question: "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ ". Suffering purifies the believer. Like gold when it is heated by fire to the melting point. The impurities in the metal come to the top, and they are then able to be removed. It is called the dross. By repeating the process, the gold is purified. We are purified by trials and tribulations. They bring the dross to the top. When we got saved, it was our soul that was saved, but that old flesh still has a lot of dross that needs to be removed. After God saves us, He begins the process of purifying us. That is the purpose of suffering.
When we are going through a test, the impurities are highlighted, and our imperfections come out of hiding. We might be able to hide what we are really like when all is well, but it is hard to hide our true selves when things are tough. It is those things that need to be purified. Sometimes we go through the same trial over and over again because when the dross comes to the top we do not let the Holy Spirit remove it. It can be imperfections in our attitude or our perceptions, and sometimes it is deep-rooted sin. Suffering also glorifies Christ. When our faith is tested, we are purified and we can more honestly praise and honor Christ, even more so when we see Him face to face. Suffering amplifies our faith, our joy, and our love for Jesus. As believers, we have something that the world does not have. We have “joy unspeakable and full of glory”!