13. What do the words of 1 Peter 1:5-7 reveal about the suffering to which Christians may be submitted?
13 Surprising as it may seem to some, the trials to which we may be submitted, whether from natural causes or from persecution, can nevertheless bring improvement in us in a personal way. The apostle Peter called attention to this.
in order that the tested quality of your faith, of much greater value than gold that perishes despite its being proved by fire, may be found a cause for praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”—1 Peter 1:5-7.
THE WAY SUFFERING CAN REFINE FAITH
15. What effect can trials have on faith?
15 The apostle Peter likened the effects that trials can have on a Christian’s faith to the refining of gold by fire. The refining process removes the dross, leaving behind the pure gold. The highly increased value of the gold certainly makes the refining process worth while. Still, as Peter said, even gold tested by fire is perishable. It can wear away or be destroyed by other means. But not so with tried or tested faith. Genuine faith cannot be destroyed.
16. Why is it highly beneficial for us to have genuine faith?
16 If we are to gain divine approval, it is absolutely essential that we have such faith. The Bible tells us: “Without faith it is impossible to please [God] well.” (Hebrews 11:6) Truly, faith that is proved genuine under test greatly exceeds the value of refined gold. Our eternal future depends on such faith.
17. What question might be raised about the effect of trials on faith?
17 But how can trials refine faith so that it “may be found a cause for praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ”? This can happen in a variety of ways.
18. How might faith reveal itself under trial, and how can this strengthen us?
18 If our faith is strong, it will comfort and support us during a time of hardship. Then, having passed one trial successfully, we are strengthened to meet any further test. The experience will have demonstrated what our faith can do for us.
19. What might a particular trial manifest as to weaknesses in faith, and how can this help us?
19 On the other hand, a particular trial may show up personality flaws, perhaps pride, stubbornness, impatience, worldliness or a love of ease and pleasure. Such traits are really born of weaknesses in faith. How so? In that they reveal that a person is not fully submitting himself to God’s guidance and will regarding him. He is not convinced that his Father really knows best what will lead to happiness, and that following divine direction will always result in blessing. (Hebrews 3:12, 13) When trials expose weaknesses, the Christian can be alerted to the need to strengthen his faith in order to remain an approved servant of the Most High.
20. When trials expose weaknesses in our faith, what should we do?
20 Therefore, if a particular situation shows up a defect in our faith, we can examine ourselves and determine what corrective measures to take. A person does well to ask: ‘Why is my faith weak? Do I neglect study and meditation on God’s Word? Do I take full advantage of opportunities to assemble with fellow believers in order to be strengthened by their expressions of faith? Do I tend to rely more on myself than I should, instead of committing all my cares and anxieties to Jehovah God? Are prayers, heartfelt prayers, really a daily part of my life?’ Once the areas are established where improvement is needed, we need to put forth diligent effort to make changes in our routine of life, with a view to strengthening our faith.
21. What is meant by our faith’s being “found a cause for praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ”?
21 By looking to God for guidance and patiently trusting in him to show us the way to relief from our trials, we can let these trying experiences aid us to become better servants of his. Then our faith will indeed “be found a cause for praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The Son of God will “praise,” laud or commend our faith. By reason of our faith, he will richly reward us, thus bestowing “glory” on us. Before Jehovah God and the angels, he will “honor” us as his disciples. (Compare Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8; 18:8.) This will mean our having before us an endless future of happy living. But what can we do while undergoing severe suffering to keep our faith from weakening?
HOW TO REACT UNDER STRONG PRESSURE
22. Our recognizing what fact about the length of trials can help us to endure?
22 One thing that can help us to endure difficult trials successfully is to recognize their temporary nature. The refining of gold has a beginning and an end. So, too, any affliction we undergo will not continue indefinitely. If we keep near to our hearts God’s promise of eternal life without sickness, outcry or pain, then even the worst of suffering in this system of things can be seen as being but “momentary and light.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) Look forward to the time when surely “former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart.” (Isaiah 65:17) How grand to know those hard experiences will then not even be a painful memory!