Those ominous clouds of trouble we hate even talking about, let alone enduring, have a precious golden lining. When we emerge from the fog and gloom, one thing remains—tried and tested faith. Peter considered that faith so valuable that he compared it to refined gold.
. . . now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 1:6-7)
In Peter’s day, metals were refined in crucibles in furnaces made fiercer with bellows. When the metal melted, impurities floated to the top and the refiner skimmed them off. After repeating the process, the metal shone bright and clear and the refiner knew it was pure. Officials used fire to test coins; if they were genuine, the flames would prove it.
The testing of gold is analogous with faith trials, to a point. Even gold eventually reacts, vaporizes, or dissolves; genuine faith endures. While the world values gold, God’s chosen commodity is tested faith. Faith is supremely precious, worth all the processing required.
I should be honest about my credentials here; I’m not like believers in Egypt, Iran, India, or whatever hotspot of persecution happens to be flaring up lately. I have been blessed with a life relatively free from trials and lacking persecution. Aside from ordinary disappointments and moral dilemmas, I have never experienced what many believers throughout history and around the world have suffered. But our authority does not lie in our experience; it lies in the Bible. This passage and many others declare that there is a reward for distress, that the benefit of trials is tested faith. It is the promise of God’s word that we must listen to.
Even with my limited experience of testing, I discovered that some of my earlier “faith” was fools gold. I thought I was pursuing worthwhile objectives. I prayed, labored, taught, and sacrificed to see the goals of church growth, missions, evangelistic outreaches, unity between bodies fulfilled. Worthy as those objectives were, when they sadly fell short of my standards of success, my impure faith evaporated. I was left with simpler and purer faith in God.
You see, no matter what success or failure we experience in life, no matter who lets us down, God never changes. He remains the healer, even though sometimes He chooses not to heal. He remains committed to a kingdom that will never stop increasing, even when we see churches split or shut. If you emerge from seasons of fire with little left except a more intense assurance about God’s goodness and power, then you are winning the race. And I am sure it already shows in your praise and honor of Him.
So, no matter what we’re experiencing, let’s fix our eyes on God and pray for our suffering brothers and sisters to come through the fire with priceless tested faith.
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