Focal Passages: 1 Peter 3:13-16; 4:1-2
We, as Christians, talk a lot about the “refining” process. “God is really refining me through this struggle,” we may say. So what do we really mean? A quick search on the Internet for how to refine gold reveals the lengthy and deliberate process that is involved in separating the impurities from this precious metal. Heat, fire, acid – all are used to separate what is pure from what is not.
Although we give a lot of lip service to the refinement process, I fear that most of us do not actually expect to go under the “heat” in our lifetimes. Tim Keller said, “In the secular view, suffering is never seen as a meaningful part of life but only as an interruption.” I think that view can also be said of the American church. We somehow forget that we are being sanctified – made more pure and holy – through the work of the Holy Spirit in our suffering.
Peter exhorts those who suffer for the sake of righteousness and calls them blessed. Not plagued with misfortune: Blessed. God is purifying us so that we are conformed into the image of His blameless and righteous Son. Scripture calls us to “rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).
It’s important to keep in mind several things: (1) Suffering for our faith is not permanent. (2) Suffering gives us the opportunity to point to the hope we have in Christ (v. 15). (3) Suffering is not about us. Peter says in 1 Peter 1:7, “These [trials] have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
We must see suffering through the lens of the glory of God. Billy Graham said it this way, “Many a life has come forth from the furnace of affliction more beautiful and more useful than before.”
Let us take joy in the “refining” process, recognizing that God is removing our sin so that what remains is the purity and righteousness of Christ.