Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
1 Peter 4.12
In some ways, I am an idealist. I think life should work. So, to be forthright, I often fail at the command to not be surprised when trials come into my life. I am too often surprised, shocked and caught off guard. This is one of the reasons I am so grateful for the Scriptures, because the Scriptures keep me in reality. The world is broken—everyone I encounter sins, and I sin. We are not home, yet. And this place, though at times it feels homey, is not our home. We even have an adversary who seeks to steal, kill and destroy.
But once I get out of the surprise factor, and start to settle in, there are two rich truths in this passage, which accompany this command to not be surprised by trials. The first is that the trials are not because God doesn’t love us. Notice how Peter begins. “Beloved...”
This is so rich, and most often what my heart needs to hear in the trial. This trial does not tell me that I am forsaken by God; instead, I am loved by God in the midst of the trial. Trials come and go. God’s love for me is steadfast. I am beloved of God. It’s love that compels God to tell us that we should not be surprised by trials. God is lovingly letting us know fiery trials will come. What kind grace!
The other truth is that the fiery trial is to test me. That is, God cares more about the purity of my faith (1 Peter 1.6-9) than my comfortable circumstances. God knows something that I often forget. he purity of my faith in Jesus is more precious than gold. I’d rather have gold at times, but gold cannot get me forgiveness, cannot get me resurrection, cannot get me a relationship with the Living God—but faith can. So, trials test my faith, show me what I am living for and trusting in.
The gospel reminds us that trials will come, and they may be fiery at times. The gospel also reminds me, that in the trial, I am loved by the Living God. And the trial always has a purpose. Just like gold purified in fire, faith in God through Jesus and empowered by the Spirit, is purified through fiery trials.