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A Tested Faith Is a Joyful Faith

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 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, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:6-9)

Throughout Scripture we find this theme that the Christian is to rejoice in the midst of trials and tribulations (see James 1 and Romans 5). Before our text, we are told what the Christian greatly rejoices in: that his eternal inheritance does not fade away, that it is reserved in heaven, and that he is kept by the power of God through faith for salvation. With such a view toward heaven, the Christian can rejoice even though he is grieved by various trials.

Sadly, there are those who are willing to give up heaven because they cannot see and experience it now. They think that seeing is believing; if I can’t see it, then why should I suffer for it? God tells us that we should be willing to give up our comforts of this life for the eternal comforts of heaven. The sinner says, “No! That’s too hard and uncomfortable. I’d rather enjoy myself here and now, even if it means giving up my faith, giving up my Savior, and giving up heaven itself!” Peter suggests that, rather than “Seeing is believing,” the Christian’s motto ought to be “Believing is seeing”: “Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” (verse 9)

As we journey through this life toward heaven, God informs us that we will face many trials and difficulties along the way. Viewed in the light of eternity, our trials really are only for a little while. Also, that little but important phrase, “if need be, ” teaches us that various trials in life are a necessity, but they need not be our downfall. On the contrary, they serve an important purpose for our faith. Just as the genuineness of gold is tested and refined by fire, so too is the Christian’s faith refined and shown to be genuine by the fiery trials of this life. Trials and tests give us opportunities to root our faith and anchor it firmly in our Savior Jesus. They point out the great weaknesses we have as sinners, and our great need to cling to Jesus and His Word for help in time of need.

The ungodly would rather give up the pleasures of heaven than endure the fiery trials of this life, but God would have the Christian experience the fiery trials of this life so that he does not experience the fires of hell that do not end. While the trials and tribulations of life may exhaust us and wear us down, they can never wear away God’s promises to us in Christ Jesus. The end of our faith, the salvation of our souls, is God’s promise to us in Christ Jesus. Though you have never seen Him, Jesus’ death has paid all of your sin debt, and His resurrection proves it. Oh how we love Him for it! And soon, we’ll be able to tell Him just how much we love Him face to face, for all eternity! In this, we do “greatly rejoice”!

Chad Seybt is pastor of Morning Star Lutheran Church in Fairchild, Trinity Lutheran Church in Millston, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Melrose, and Peace with God Evangelical Lutheran Church in Onalaska; all in Wisconsin.