In this, you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials. – 1 Peter 1:6
Those two little words, “if necessary,” contain a world of truth. In the prior verses, Peter has just informed us of our glorious salvation in Jesus and the new birth he has given us. In this, we greatly rejoice, even though, if necessary we are grieved by various trials. When it comes to the hardships we face, those words, “if necessary,” tell us that someone is in control. Choices have been made regarding the hardships we face. They do not happen haphazardly.
No trials enter your life that God does not ordain. Many people do not like the word “ordained” when it comes to adversity or pain. They prefer to say that God allows them. I am okay with that language, but remember this. If he allows it, he chooses to allow it, and in choosing what will happen, he is ordaining. However, here is the good news. God never afflicts us without cause. He is always doing a good work.
Our Lord’s sovereignty over our trials should comfort us greatly. He is in control of the type of adversity, the intensity of the adversity, and the length of the adversity. Did you notice that Peter also told us something about the length of the trial? It is “for a little while.” It will not last long.
So what makes trials necessary? Our sinfulness, for one. This passage goes on to inform us that God is always purifying our faith with tests, but this does not mean every time we see someone facing adversity, we can say it is because of their sin. There is another reason we need to have our faith tested as well, and that is our godliness.
So many people want to have a strong faith like the great saints in scripture or church history, but they never want to face anything that requires it. What is the point of having great faith if you are not going to do anything with it, and how would you know you even have it if he did not put it to the test?
Robert Leighton once said, “God delights to call his champions to face great temptations and to make them bear especially heavy crosses. God’s grace is revealed to the world as Christian, under strong attack triumph because they are relying on God’s powerful grace.” In every case, it is necessary because God teaches us to lean less on the things of the world and more and more upon him. On top of that, he is showing his grace to those around us.
Christian, I am not sure what you are facing right now, but I do know this, God is doing a good work through it. I also want to remind you that God is not only sovereign over the trials that grieve you; he is also sovereign over your deliverances from those trials.
There is nothing you are facing from which your deliverer cannot set you free. Falls into sin can be washed clean by his blood. He can create a clean heart, and he can renew a right spirit within us. Sickness can find a healer, relationship problems can be reconciled, financial issues can find a provider, persecutions from the enemies of God can be thwarted, and grieving hearts can be comforted.
Yes, there are some trials he may not set you free from in this life, but if that is the case, they will serve as a thorn in the flesh, and in your weakness, he will be strong. So prepare to see God move. And yes, one day, you will face a trial God will use to end the beating of your heart, but that is not because he has failed to deliver you. On the contrary, he is giving you the ultimate deliverance. He is bringing you home where pain will be no more, and your Savior will dry every tear.
However, be sure of this; most of what you will face in the trials that grieve your heart will see him act here and now. You are here, are you not? How many hardships have you faced in your past that eventually came to an end? Whether or not you recognized God’s hand in it, his hand did move. How else would you have made it this far?
Those words, “if necessary,” will come true for every believer at some point in their life. So when you feel your heart grieving, do not think something strange is happening. Instead, look to the one who loves you and is working all things for his glory and your good.