Encouragement in Trials
2nd Corinthians 4 says,
“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).”
For most of us, our afflictions and difficulties do not seem very light or momentary. At first glance a lifetime of various victories and defeats doesn’t feel momentary. But what Paul is saying here is that in the light of eternity, and in the light of the eternal work that God is accomplishing in each of us through our afflictions and trials, it is a light affliction, and it is but for a moment because it is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Our troubles will come to end one day, but they are accomplishing good things that will go on forever in God’s Kingdom. And God is not just working all things for good for us, but He is accomplishing His eternal purposes in the people around us through our trials, and theirs.
That reminds me of 1st Peter, chapter 1. Peter starts off by saying,
“Blessed 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, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:3-4).”
Our inheritance in the Lord is reserved for us who are “kept by the power of God.” That is, surrounded, guarded, protected, and kept by the power of God through our faith in Jesus Christ “for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (v. 5).”
In verse 5, Peter is saying that the rapture of the church, the tribulation, the second coming, the setting up of the Kingdom of Jesus is ready, it could be revealed at any time. That’s what he said in the early to mid-sixties of the first century AD. So, if it was ready at that time, then he’s saying the rapture is imminent, it can happen at any time. Our salvation is ready, and when the Lord’s timing is fulfilled, He will come.
And then in verse 6 Peter says,
“You greatly rejoice in this,” speaking of that hope of salvation ready to come. We’re looking for Jesus and we’re looking to inherit our inheritance, our eternal bodies that cannot die and in which there is no impurity. We will be completely holy and righteous, we will not have a sin nature anymore. All of this we greatly rejoice in. Then he continues: “though now for a little while if need be you have been grieved by various trials.” That word grieved could also be translated “distressed.” These are very distressing and grievous times that we live in now, and of course all of the last two thousand years, in various places and in various ways, many Christians have lived with distressing circumstances. This is written to the church, and there are many trials and tribulations in this life for the followers of Christ.
But here’s why we go through trials. We just saw it in 2nd Corinthians 4:17, that God is working a “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” through our difficulties in this Christian life. The impact, the eternal purposes that God is accomplishing through our trials that we don’t fully comprehend now, they each have eternal ramifications and purpose.
Now, in 1 Peter 1:7, Peter gives us more insight from the Holy Spirit and it’s really helpful and encouraging to understand.
“So that 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.”
Revelation, “apokalypsis” in Greek, like the Book of Revelation. Jesus is speaking of the revealing of Jesus Christ that happens at the rapture and then at the second coming and establishment of His Messianic Kingdom, the thousand-year reign of Jesus on earth.
Let’s break down verse 7 a bit because this is so amazing when you think about how we get worn out from the trials, the difficulties. It really seems like one thing after another and we ask, “how can this be happening Lord and what is this for and why are you allowing this?” Well, we know in 2nd Corinthians that Paul said that God is working out something that far exceeds any difficulties in this life. That His plan exceeds our trials by so much, by so far, that you could call all of your afflictions in this life “light” and that you could call an entire lifetime of affliction “momentary.” That’s how much God is working out for us in eternal terms, even though we can’t fully comprehend all of that now.
Peter gives us a little more insight into that. Look at verse 7 in 1st Peter 1 again, “you’ve been grieved, distressed by various trials so that the genuineness of your faith…” Now skip this next part of the sentence for a second, it is a parenthetical thought. Reading it like this helps us grasp what is being said: “that the genuineness of your faith… may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Peter is saying that when God allows our trials, it’s like when gold is put into the refiner’s fire. We are God’s treasure, we are His “gold.” Why does gold need to be refined? To make it more pure. And what happens when gold is made more pure? Its value increases.
So, our faith is tested and tried and refined through our trials. For what purpose? So that it, meaning you and I, may be “found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Whether we die and go to be with the Lord, or we go to be with Him immediately when He’s revealed at the rapture or at the second coming, the more refining that’s been done in your life, the more praise you will receive. The more honor you will receive. The more glory you will receive. The purest gold receives the highest honor and is of the most value.
Now we see God’s ability to work all things together for good for His children. We can see where all of the refining leads. You’ve endured another trial and you have grown in your faith. You’ve endured another trial and you have more commendations. And when Peter says, “the genuineness of your faith,” he doesn’t mean God is checking to see if it is real, if it is genuine. Peter is saying that the trial is making it more genuine, more pure. Your faith is refined and becomes of more value.
Without question, our value to God is infinite and unconditional in Christ. In this passage “value” is analogous of our purification, our sanctification. In other words, maturing in Christ. Our sanctification leads to a deeper walk with Jesus and to things we do for Christ in this life by His Spirit. Our trials make us more like Jesus and lead to maturity and the accomplishing of the works that God wants to accomplish through us, which things lead to praise, honor, and glory; our rewards in Heaven! Peter is speaking of our sanctification and purification. Not for salvation, but for maturing and growing in our Christian lives, in our closeness and genuineness of relationship with Jesus. Read this again: our trials lead to our purification and sanctification, which directly lead to maturity and works done in the Spirit, which accomplish eternal benefits and rewards; praise, honor, and glory in the Kingdom of God forever!
We are saved by grace through faith immediately, and fully made holy and set apart by just our simple faith in Jesus Christ; by our faith in the blood of Christ shed for our sin and His resurrection for our life. But there is a work that God is doing in us now that we are born-again, born from above. He is working out His will in and through us now and forever. His will is that we live more holy lives in this life, that we live our lives focused on Him, in communion with Him, in relationship with Jesus. But of course, that only goes so far (even in an entire lifetime) because we struggle against our old sin nature. Sometimes it seems like it’s barely gone anywhere! When we are with the Lord, when Jesus arrives or we go to be with Him, that sin nature will finally be destroyed completely.
What is Peter’s point, then? That all of our fiery trials in Christ bring growth and maturity in our walk with Him, and God is using them, not just in our life but in the lives of the people around us. Most immediately, our family, our friends, our co-workers, and people in church; our brothers and sisters in Christ. And other people that we encounter, and people yet to put their faith in Jesus.
And so, as we go through these things and God works them out- these trials, these sicknesses, these persecutions, a variety of different things that bring trials, we are adding to our reward. We are adding to our walk with Christ. We are adding to the praise and honor and glory that we are going to receive from Him. And the Lord is using us to add to His Kingdom!
The disclosure of this truth here in First Peter should give us renewed hope and recharge us to endure. We are so close to the return of Jesus. He’s coming so soon; we can hardly comprehend. It could be a matter of days. It could be months or years, but it is so close now. He has delayed His coming thus far because God doesn’t want any to perish, but all to come to life (2 Peter 3). But we are seeing literally dozens of prophecies, hundreds of things happening every day around the world, that show how close we are to the return of Christ, biblically speaking. This can be proven, it is all laid out in the Word of God, the Bible.
The Lord is coming so soon. Even if it is years away that’s still very, very soon. Endure. Press through. Know that God has a reason for the trials that you’re going through. An eternal purpose to bless us beyond all that we can think or imagine! And God is never going to leave you or forsake you. He is holding you in His hand. He makes that promise. If we call out on Him, if we put our trust in Him, He Himself will answer. He Himself will deliver us.
Endure, keep fighting the good fight of faith, persevere like a good soldier. Stay in your Bible like it is the only way you will get through- because it is. Keep crying out to the Lord and asking why He’s doing what He is doing, and He will show you. Stay in the Word of God because look, it is all right there. He’s doing a work, a good work, an eternal work. When we’re in Heaven 10,000 years from now it will seem like a light affliction, it will seem like it was but for a moment. And all of this you are enduring is bringing your family into the Kingdom, bringing your friends into the Kingdom, your co-workers, other people that you care about or maybe even people you don’t care about, enemies.
Lord Jesus, have mercy on your people. Come quickly, Lord. But use us until that time has arrived.
The Lord bless you and I hope this was a blessing and an encouragement. Grow in the grace of the Lord, keep your face in your Bible, and keep looking up! The King is coming very soon.