What’s the Purpose of Trials?
If you have you ever experienced a trial that left such an impression on you, so as to change you into a different person, then you understand completely what Peter is saying in 1 Peter 1:6-9. Some trials cut so deeply that the scare left behind does not begin to tell of the experience you had. The trial was so personal and hurt so badly that it sunk into the depths of your soul and remains with you to this day. Have you ever experienced such a trial? It was so personal and so deep that the only thing to conclude was that an almighty all-knowing God could have designed such a trial. Who else knows you so well as to have you walk through what you have walked through? So, what is the function of such a personal trial? Peter shows us 4 things that trials produce.
- Trials produces genuine faith “The tested genuineness of your faith” (vs. 6)
Trials are the dividing line which proves a believer’s faith. Jesus says it this way.
Mk. 4:16-17 “And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.”
A person may wrongly think that trials are unnecessary to achieve the end goal of a genuine faith but Scripture teaches otherwise. When a believer experiences such a personal trial from God and keeps their faith through it, they are surer of God’s sustaining power than ever. Trials function as a dividing line in the life of a believer. The trial leaves such an impression on their faith that there is no turning back from pursuing God’s plan. True believers persevere under trial. James says it this way.
James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Your trial is doing something! It’s not for no nothing!
- Trials produce stronger faith “Though it is tested by fire” (vs. 7)
Peter uses the analogy of Gold being purged in fire for two reasons. 1) To explain the process of refinement in the believer, and 2) to compare the value of Gold to the value of your faith. The process of refining Gold to remove the dross is like the process of trials that remove unnecessary impurities. In other words, fire is a good thing in these verses not a bad thing. An untested faith is a faith with remaining impurities. Faith, like Gold, must be tested with fire to purge out the dross of worldly pursuits and replaces them with faith, which is more valuable than gold. The result is a stronger faith.
The second reason Peter uses Gold is to compare pure Gold to faith. Faith is more valuable than Gold! God gives his children the most valuable thing they could ever have. He is the best father who gives the best to his children. Trials remove the blinders that keep us from seeing our faith as the most precious thing we possess. Without trials our hearts would pursue lesser joys which are not as valuable, keeping us from a mature faith in God. So, don’t run from the fire! Embrace the Fire!
- Trials Produce Inexpressible Joy (vs. 8)
This is why trials produce Joy! The trial allows us to see clearly. God is giving us the most valuable thing we could ever possess. Though you have not seen him, you love him, and rejoice. You cannot physically see God but you experience God through the trials he sends and become assured that he is working on your faith.
- Trials Produce Complete Salvation “The outcome of your faith” (9)
The end result of a pure faith, tested in the fire, is mature, complete or finished faith. You would surely exchange your eternal salvation for temporary trials, wouldn’t you? Of course, you would! Rejoice, your salvation is coming soon. James says it this way.
James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him”