I. Short Period (verse 6)
In trials, Christians rejoice in what is sure and unchanging—what God has done for us and in us (vv 3-5). Distressing trials are limited by time, but the joy is boundless. The trials will not traverse outside the boundaries God has put in place, but the joy spills over these bounds and beyond this period into eternity (c.f., 2 Corinthians 4:17). Even in the midst of the most difficult trial for the Christian, joy is not overwhelmed by deep sorrow. The oil of gladness rises to the surface and will not be drowned by the floods of affliction.
The combination of sorrow and rejoicing is normal in the heart and life of a Christian—we will experience many diverse and different difficulties in this life. It’s not necessarily hard to have an occasional trial with long delays of respite in between. But when the trials arrive on the coattails of the previous one, difficult is too mild of a description (Psalm 42:7). Yet, even when trials persist, they are but for “a little while” when compared to eternity. If the eternal is more in focus, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
II. Sure Purpose (verse 7-9)
The genuineness of faith shines in praise from the fires of affliction. Like fire to gold, trials are designed to burn away the impurities of our precious faith (v. 7). Genuine faith is of more value than gold because while gold perishes, faith never does—it will become sight! The Christian in trials does not merely experience a measure of joy mingled in, but rather is able to “greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (v. 8). Faith in Christ gives rise to love for Him, and faith and love together result in the assured hope of salvation through Him (v. 9).
The distresses and difficulties of believers do not make them miserable or morose but reveal their genuine love for Christ. As their genuine love, faith, and hope in Christ are revealed, they also experience the joy of their salvation, which will soon be experienced fully in the life to come. Our trials, whether great or small, are not meaningless. Instead, suffering is the means God uses to bring glory and honor to Christ in our lives! Because it confirms our faith, suffering itself becomes an occasion for joy.
– Is there anything in your life that you would consider a trial or cause of distress? How are you responding? According to these verses, how does God use your trials for good in your life? How is He glorified through your suffering? How should the truth and hope of the gospel transform the way that you endure and view affliction and difficulties in life?