Let us continue
our study of I Peter. It is in this book during one of Israel’s
darkest hours that Peter encourages them to look not at their
suffering but the God of suffering.
This week let us
study verses 6-9 of Chapter 1. It is here we find ‘The Purpose
Of All Suffering’. Our text says, “Wherein
ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in
heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your
faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though
it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and
glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye
love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice
with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your
faith, even the salvation of your souls.”
We find within our
text a threefold purpose for suffering. In verse 6 we have ‘A
Rejoicing Purpose’. The word ‘wherein’ is in the neuter
gender and could not refer to our earthly profession of salvation.
He turns their attention from this season of trouble to the eternal
world of salvation. It is there we will greatly ‘rejoice’.
The word means extreme joy expressing itself externally in an
exuberant fashion. He compares what they are going through to what
awaits them. This time of trouble is but for a ‘season’.
(Small span of time) They find themselves going through the
heaviness of manifold temptations. The word ‘through’ means
a fixed position without movement. The word ‘heaviness’
means unbearable to carry. ‘Manifold’ means varied in size,
multiple in number, and heavy in weight. ‘Temptation’ is a
solicitation to do evil. Peter tells us that ‘it needs be’.
Why do God’s people have to go through these things? What is the
purpose? One reason is that servants who are to be used greatly
must be ground between the millstones of suffering. The second
reason is only wayward children can be brought back to the Lord by
suffering. The third reason is simply to refine and make us like
our Lord. Let us rejoice in these reasons. Why, even Job said ‘when
He hath tried me I shall come forth as gold’.
In verse 7 we have
defined for us ‘The Refining Purpose’. The word ‘trial’
used in this verse is the Greek word ‘dokimazo’, which means
to put to the test with a view of determining whether one is worthy
to be approved. It is used in the consideration for a Doctor’s
degree in medicine. How can one be assured that his faith is
genuine and is approved by the test of suffering?
The first proof will
be a submissive spirit to the Lord in a time of testing. (Not my
will, but thine be done) The second proof is that one will remain
faithful to walk with Him in the trial. The third proof is there
will be a desire to learn the lessons being taught through this
The faith is not the
focus of the praise at His appearing but the fact of approval in the
test. Our approval in this test is ‘more precious than gold’.
When one is a gold miner and strikes a vein of gold he takes a
sample to the assayer’s office. The assayer through lab work will
establish the worth of the gold and the quantity of the mine. The
assayer’s report is worth more than gold. It is like money in the
bank. It is of great value when our God can trust our faith in the
time of suffering.
In verses 8 and 9 we
have ‘The Revealing Purpose’. We are reminded in verse 8
that we have never seen the Lord. We have never seen Him yet we
believe in Him and love Him. To know Him is to love Him and to love
Him is to want to know Him more. This loving knowledge causes great
joy even in our darkest hours of suffering.
In verse 9 the final
great fact of the ‘Revealing Purpose’ is that the ultimate
end of our suffering will be to see Him face to face. ‘It will
be worth it all, when we see Jesus. Life’s trials will seem so small
when we see Christ. One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrows will
erase. So bravely run the race till we see Christ’.
Let our focus not be
on what we are going through but the purpose for which God has
chosen for us to walk this road.