“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold — though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” — 1 Peter 1:6-7
In the 1980s, Northern Nevada was the site of a gold strike. The discovery would have been beyond the imagination of 19th-century prospectors, for the gold in those western hills is virtually invisible. Even after being magnified 1,500 times, most of the particles remain imperceptible.
Modern technology, however, has found a way to extract the gold. First, tons of ore are crushed to the consistency of fine sand. Then cyanide is added to dissolve the granules into a clear solution. When zinc dust is blended in, the gold separates from the mixture. The gold was there all the time, but it couldn’t be seen.
There’s a similarity here to Peter’s explanation of suffering and hardship in his first New Testament letter. He saw great potential in the mountains of adversity and affliction that faced the Lord’s people. Peter encouraged them to look beyond the heat and pressure produced by their suffering to the precious faith the Lord was developing from it. He showed them that the “faith processing” experience was of great value to their spiritual lives. Therefore, they could actually rejoice in it (verse 8).
In my own experience, I have found that this “faith processing” comes in three steps. First comes grief. Hardship and heartache come to us all. Difficulty is as much a part of our lives as any experience we have. This is not only a routine experience in my life but a common experience for all.
When I view and respond to grief in the right way, that brings genuineness. Peter calls it “the genuineness of faith.” When I view my sufferings through the prism of Christ’s sufferings I gain a beneficial understanding of my circumstances. I don’t say, “Why?” as much as I say. “What?” — “Lord, what are you trying to teach me? Lord, what are you trying to reveal to me?”
As God develops genuineness in my life, I begin to look more and more like Jesus. I become reflective of Him and others are able to detect His presence and transforming power in my life.
This brings me to the final step in the “faith process” in my life — gold. The faith-testing times that I experience become the faith-strengthening times in my life. The purifying process allows the face of my Savior to become more and more visible. Troubles become triumphs and grief becomes glory!
Don’t give in to life’s trouble. Don’t waste your sorrows on lesser living and diminished dreams. You may not see in them the rich potential of a strong faith, but it’s there. Let the Father develop and reveal the gold that is already there!