We know that this current virus can cause a number of physical problems. But it can also damage the human psyche in terms of fear, worry, and confusion. Statistically speaking, you will probably not get the coronavirus. But you might get anxiety. You might become unemployed. You might feel distressed or even depressed, not just over your own trouble but over the troubles of the whole world. What's the purpose of all the suffering we as believers experience?
In 1 Peter, the apostle wrote, "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1:6-7). There are some important lessons we can learn about trials from these verses:
1. Trials are multiple. As verse 6 says, we are "grieved by various trials," or, literally, many-colored trials. Trials come in all shades and colors, whether they're physical, emotional, or spiritual (or sometimes all of the above). And even the most godly, dedicated believers are susceptible to them.
2. Trials are painful. The word for grieved in verse 6 means distressed or made heavy. This is the same word used to describe the sorrow Jesus felt in the garden of Gethsemane (see Matthew 26:37). Trials, including the one we're currently going through, can feel crushing.
3. Trials are needful. The phrase "if need be" in verse 6 indicates that there are times when God prescribes certain trials for our lives. Whenever you suffer as a believer, there's a need in your life that is being met (see 1 Peter 3:17; 4:19). God is going to use that trial for something.
Here are just some of the benefits of trials: They measure "the genuineness of your faith" (v. 7) and your spiritual maturity. They correct you (see Psalm 119:67) and humble you (see 2 Corinthians 12:1-9); they let you know you're not in control. Trials also strengthen you (see James 1:2-4) and equip you to comfort others (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
4. Trials are remedial—that is, they refine us. "That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (v. 7). God sees you as precious; you're like gold to Him. So He works to refine you in the furnace (see Job 23:10). He's not out to blast you, but to bless you. When it comes to trials, He knows just what you need and how long you need it, and His goal is for you to be "conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29).
Later in 1 Peter, the apostle spoke of the "manifold grace of God" (1 Peter 4:10). What's interesting is that the Greek word for manifold is the same word used to describe various trials in chapter 1. Are you experiencing manifold—many-colored—trials? You will have manifold grace shown to you. For every color of trial in your life, God has a color of grace to match it.
We all need a little perseverance right about now in this pandemic. We've confined ourselves to our homes. We've played all the games and watched everything on Netflix. Now what? Just hang in there. Continue to spend time and go deeper with the Lord. He can do something in and through you during this time that you've never imagined, and I believe through it all, He's going to reveal to you just how wonderful His grace is.