Making sense of our suffering

What has been your most difficult trial in the last couple of years?

Sickness, strained relationships, persecution, isolation, financial difficulties, family problems?

Today, as all through the ages, people have different responses to trials, suffering and hardship.

They may think, “God obviously doesn’t care about me.”

Or, “God has deserted and abandoned me.”

Or, “I must have done something wrong and God is punishing me.”

Or, “Christianity is just a farce.  If God really did love me this would not be happening.”

The Christians, to whom the Apostle Peter wrote the letter we know as “1 Peter”, were also suffering and facing many trials.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials… (1 Peter 1:6)

The “this” in the verse above that Christians can rejoice in, even during trials, is our great salvation.

The fact that we have been “born again to a living hope” (1:3) and now await a supernatural “inheritance” (the renewed creation) that is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1:4).

No trial or hardship can ever detract anything from our secured, spectacular, supernatural salvation.

We don’t rejoice because of our trials, but we can rejoice during them.

Suffering also has a divine purpose.

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)

Suffering and all kinds of trials are occasions when God refines and purifies the faith of his people, just as precious metal is refined by fire.

The trials burn away impurities in the believers’ faith and what is left after the trials have ended, is purified, genuine faith; like the pure gold or silver that comes out of the refiner’s fire.

The Bible has no time for a Christianity that promises health, wealth and endless happiness. Suffering for both Christians and non-Christians is a reality in this world.

Suffering is never accidental or meaningless, for the Christian.

Christians will experience grief, trials and suffering only as it is necessary in the light of God’s good and infinitely wise purposes for them, to refine and purify their faith.

God’s best work in Jesus was achieved through his suffering.

God’s best work in us may be achieved through our times of suffering.

When Jesus Christ is revealed (v7) we, with our purified, genuine faith in him, will receive praise, glory and honour.

Trails and suffering happen according to divine design.

Trails and suffering are never random or pointless.

God’s finest work in us may be accomplished during the times we grieve the most.