“For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” – Romans 8:16-17.
The topic of trials and suffering is not the most popular topic in Christian circles. But whether we like it or not, and whether we ever want to fully face up to this reality in this life, every single one us, saved or unsaved, will have to face a certain amount of trials and tribulations as we journey through this life. It is cold, hard reality.
In 1 Peter 1:6 and James 1:2, both Peter and James mention, “trials of many kinds.” Their point is that trials can be long, short, emotional, physical, mental, or circumstantial, and come with varying degrees of difficulty. Our trials come in all shapes and sizes. If you find yourself in some difficult or constraining circumstances that are a source of struggle for you, consider yourself in a trial; it was allowed by God and can work for good in your spiritual growth.
1 Peter 1:6-7 is one of the most valuable passages on trials, because it describes the dynamics of how God changes us in a trial. Peter describes the gold smelting process where gold is heated up and impurities float to the surface. The next step in the process is to scoop away the impurities. The result is a purer piece of gold. The result then, of trials, is to accomplish a purer and stronger character and faith. It is in trials that our weaknesses, sin, and character flaws come to the surface, so that they may be transformed.
Trials can also illuminate deficiencies in our faith. When we come through the trial, we find that our faith has been stretched to several times its original size, as we own the character of God in a way we never did before.
Trials produce maturity, and this is why they are a blessing to us. James 1:4 describes a progression where trials produce perseverance, and perseverance, maturity. The goal of trials is not to make a person more persevering. That’s not a very exciting goal. But the result of persevering under trials is a more mature faith, and that is motivating. All Christians want mature faith.
- How have the trials that you have experienced brought you closer to, or pushed you further away from God? How have trials affected your faith?
- When you read James 1:2-4, it seems like suffering is a major way in which God produces maturity and perseverance in us. Why do you think trials refine us so well?