Here I am, I’m still standing
Here I am after all I’ve been through
I’ve survived every toil
And every snare I’m alive, I’m alive here All of the pain that I had to go through it gave power
And a testimony now I am standing here today
With one thing to say Lord I thank you,
- Marvin Sapp, Here I Am
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 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, (1 Peter 1:6-8)
What do you say when you see someone suffering for doing the right thing? Our hearts understandably empathize with those who have experienced cruel injustices and violence. The Apostle Peter writes a letter to Christians who have been hunted, jailed, and martyred for their faith in Christ. They are survivors of unimaginable attacks, and have been “scattered” (1 Peter 1:1) by persecution across the Roman Empire. Peter’s instructions to them inform us about the nature of trials and how God uses them for our good.
First, Peter acknowledges their suffering. He sees they “have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” Denial, pretending the injury didn’t happen, prevents us from hearing the Holy Spirit clearly speak to us. Regardless of how painful it is to admit it, accepting the reality of suffering is the first step to growing.
Peter also reminds them of the purpose behind their present circumstances. He writes, “these have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith.” By pointing to a greater purpose, Peter gives context and hope for their current circumstances. In the midst of opposition from adversaries, bills that need to paid, and even the threat of violence, we have a perspective which can defend us against hopelessness. Peter calls this community to look up instead of fixating on the circumstances. He challenges us to do the same.
Next, Peter paints a potent word picture. He writes that their faith is “of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire.” No other phrase in his letter unlocks the meaning of trials so robustly. Gold, when found in nature, is unimpressive. It can typically look like nothing more than a rock with moderately shiny flecks.
Once someone discovers gold, a refiner must purify it. The refiner inserts the gold into a furnace where it endures incredibly intense heat (over 1980℉), which melts the metal and separates it from the impurities that dull its luster. The gold must remain in the fierce heat depending on how much contaminants remain. Occasionally, the refiner examines the condition of the gold by observing the metal. Once the refiner can see her reflection in the gold, she knows the gold has been purified. She sends it to be tested, and if it’s at 99.9% gold, it’s removed from the furnace and ready for display.
Peter implores this group of sufferers that though they are in the furnace being refined, they should not lose heart because their purified faith “may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” The heat will result in heart change. The fire will refine them. In the same way that the fire purifies gold, fierce trials refine us.
Trials remake us and separate whatever is in our lives that dulls the luster of Christ’s glory. tweet
God uses trials to surface misplaced priorities, sinful attitudes, and areas that reveal a lack of faith. Where we have gaps in our character like a lack of compassion for others, God uses trials to transform us.
Peter knew this lesson firsthand. He changed from an impulsive, boastful fisherman (Matthew 26:33), to a humble, thoughtful pastor (1 Peter 5:6) through painful failure. He had foolishly rebuked Jesus and later denied him (Matthew 16:22, Luke 22:62). But that trial purified Peter’s character. Peter reflected Christ’s heart and leadership because of what he learned in his trial. He applies that lesson to us as well. Our process of refinement will result in Jesus Christ’s glory as he is revealed in us. We can accelerate our refining process in a few fundamental ways.
Commit to worship God in the midst of the trial. A habit of contentment and worship cultivates joy regardless of circumstances. When we worship in the middle of our trials, we can focus beyond the struggle to the Savior.
Pray big, open-handed prayers. When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed boldly; “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.” He prayed a request for another way to rescue humanity that didn’t involve the cross. It’s an enormous prayer request. We can also pray big, audacious prayers and open ourselves to God’s movement. Jesus concluded his prayer “… yet not my will, but yours be done (Matthew 26:39).” While his prayer request was enormous, his confidence in God’s plan for his life and death was greater. Praying with the type of faith that does not demand our way, but seeks to embrace God’s plan, refines us to trust the Father as Jesus did.
Follow Jesus’ Example. The greatest example of peace in the midst of suffering comes from Jesus himself. Peter, who witnessed his trials up close, understood that the model of Jesus in the midst of trials teaches us all we need to know.
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:21)
Jesus suffered for us. The righteous for the wicked. The innocent for the guilty. He gives an example for us: love God and love people in the midst of suffering. When we approach trials more like Jesus, we will discover inner peace and joy we never thought possible.
- Why is it important to recognize and acknowledge trials you are facing?
- How does the refining process of gold remind you of your refining process?
- What are some ways you can pray big, “not my will” prayers?
- What is one way I can follow Jesus’ example in how he went through trials?
Written by Rasool Berry
Edited by Christina Utley