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 honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. – 1 Peter 1:6-9 ESV
Where do you find your joy in this life? To what do you turn to for hope as you make your way on this topsy-turvy journey of faith? Peter would say that your joy and hope should be based in nothing less than your “inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4 ESV). It is the promise of eternal life and our final glorification that should bring us joy and give us hope. The promise of life to come should strongly influence the life we live. So much so, Peter says, that rejoicing is the norm even “though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials” (1 Peter 1:6 ESV). Our circumstances in this life do not derail us because we have our hope firmly planted on the life to come.
For the believer, trials and testings are nothing more than opportunities to prove his or her faith. The issue has less to do with the quality or quantity of our faith, than with the object of our faith. God has promised us eternal life. His Son has pledged to return for us and to take us to be with Him. Heaven is our ultimate destination, so we are able to endure all that this life throws at us, knowing that these temporary testings “are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18 ESV). The trials of this life provide us with proof that our faith is well-placed. Our hope and joy are not dependent upon the circumstances of this life. When bad things happen, rather than panic, we remind ourselves that any “light momentary affliction” we suffer in this life is “preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17 ESV).
Peter assures us that our faith will not fail us, not because of the quality of our faith, but because of the faithfulness of our God. Because our faith is placed in Him, it will survive the fires of adversity. It will prove to be more precious, more valuable, than gold. But we must remember that the final proof of our faith will be revealed at the revelation of Jesus Christ. It will be on that day we fully realize that our faith in God was safe and secure all along. We will have survived. We will have endured and come through the testings of this life unscathed. In fact, we will be purified, without sin, spotless in our moral character.
Peter reminds us that the outcome of our faith is “the salvation of our souls” (1 Peter 1:9 ESV). Our faith should have a focus. It should long for what God longs for. It should seek that which God has promised us: our adoption as sons and daughters and the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23). Paul boldly claimed, “So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8 NLT). On this earth, we are stuck in these fallen, earthly bodies. They are prone to sin and saddled with the baggage we inherited from Adam. They are decaying and dying. They are lust-filled and earth-bound. But the day is coming when we will receive new, redeemed bodies. We will be as Paul longed to be, delivered from “this body of death” (Romans 7:24 ESV).
Where our faith comes in is simple. We have never seen Jesus, but we believe in Him. And Peter says, “Though you have not seen him, you love him” and “Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8 ESV). Why? Because we trust Him. Our hope is based on that which we do not yet have. Paul put it this way: “hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?” (Romans 8:24 NET). We have forgiveness of sins. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit. We have a right standing with God. But we do not yet have heaven. We hope for that which we do not yet possess and cannot yet see. And we rejoice in it because we are fully confident that it is ours. Jesus promised it. “When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going” (John 14:3-4 NLT). And when Thomas asked Jesus to explain what he meant by “the way,” Jesus replied, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NLT). Faith in Jesus is the way. Hope in the promise of eternal life made possible by His death and resurrection is the means by which we rejoice now in what is yet to come.