Rejoicing in the Fire (Chapter 1 Verses 3-12)
That hope is such a certainty we are told, that it keeps us buoyant, not just in the good times, but the bad also (vv6-9). In fact to such an extent we can rejoice in what has just be placed before us, even though for now, we may be going through trials, and fiery ones at that. Why? Well one reason is your salvation is ready to be revealed, when? In the last time (v5b). When is the last time, now. We are in the last days now. In fact Biblically the last days refers to those days from the cross to the end. So that glorious hope, that full and final salvation is ready to be revealed at any time. But there is another reason, and that is because the sufferings are temporary, for a season (v6). In fact it is stronger than rejoice, it is celebration, greatly rejoicing, yes, in spite of all kinds of trials. It is exactly the same thing as James says to almost the same readership (James 1.2), who claims these trials are occasion for joy. Oh it’s not that you don’t suffer grief, Peter acknowledges that that is there, awful, grief, but that does not lessen the grounds, the reason for celebration. The fact that it will soon be over. They, the trials are only temporary, they will soon be over. This life is but a single breath in comparison to eternity. We must needs remember the trials only come when God permits them to do so, and only go as far as he permits them to go. We are merely strangers, pilgrims (v1), just passing through, soon it will be over (v6).
Again like James (James 1.3), Peter says, in these trials we are being tested (v7), that is basically the reason God permits them. They are testing our faith. Gold is tested in fire in order to show, to demonstrate that it is in fact pure gold and not brass. Gold is but perishable metal at the end of the day. How much more precious is your faith? Very, to God. So precious he wants to refine it, and he does so through these trials, burning up the straw. Now just as fire will not harm what is real gold, neither will the fire of trial harm what is real, genuine faith. It will only purify it, it will only demonstrate to ourselves that we have the mark of the real thing in our souls. When God gives you those trials, think of them as opportunities, given to make your faith like his word, pure. Faith clings tenaciously to his word, his promises and earns his commendation, his praise (v7b). When God will heap upon you, when Jesus returns, praise, honour, and glory. Well done faithful servant (Matthew 25.21). More than anything else he wants your trust.
(© James R Hamilton, written May, 1998)