The Purifying Power of Trials

Long-distance dating is an emotionally restless ride. Like a car crawling through heavy traffic, your relationship lurches between the joy of reunion and the sorrow of separation.

The upheaval of emotion can be nauseating. With no idea if you’ll ever reach your desired destination, you wonder, “Why did I take this route?”

Of course, as a Christian, you know that the Sovereign God has mapped out your life’s course. This fact that often brings you such peace can quickly divert to bitterness: “Why is the Driver taking me this direction?”

When your heart suffers and your mind doubts in this way, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say you are experiencing a trial. Your situation may not be the same as the original readers, but God’s purposes, love, and provision remain the same for you and for them.

Why does God allow us to experience trials? Why does He allow us to be apart from the person we care so deeply about?

I have often pleaded with God for the answers to these questions. Each time I think I am sunk in despair, God encourages me through His Holy Spirit and His Word. In places like 1 Peter, I am reassured that trusting God is worthwhile, and I begin to understand the purifying power of trials.

The Trial of Long-Distance Will Refine You

1 Peter 1:7 (NIV) says, “These (trials) have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

I never really grasped the implications of the “refined by fire” part until I watched a YouTube video of a chemist turning old jewelry into pure gold bars. Explaining his method as he works, the chemist removes all of the extra impurities from the gold. 

The final product is stunning. Even the chemist is excited. But if you watch the video, you see that the beautiful gold bar would not be possible without the chemist subjecting it to hours and hours of fire, boiling, and acid baths.

I think this is the essence of Peter’s analogy: Trials are like fire. They are painful. They are slow. But they refine your faith and reveal its genuineness. This purification process brings glory to God, and increasing joy to you as a believer.

Your Faith Is Like Gold, But Better

However, Peter doesn’t say your faith is exactly like gold. He says your faith is of even greater worth because it is eternal. It will not perish when you die or when this world passes away (1 John 2:17).

True, lasting faith is not something you can muster up and maintain on your own (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is the result of trusting in Jesus Christ as your only means of salvation and treasuring Him above everything else — including your loved ones (Mark 19:17-31). It requires acknowledging your total inadequacy and Christ’s complete sufficiency in saving and sanctifying you.

Gold cannot refine itself. Only Jesus has the power to purify you.

This truth can bring sweet relief in the midst of your anguish. When you feel you cannot endure the pain of missing each other any longer, you can look to the Savior who endured the pain for you.

This truth also creates a precious hope for the future. After you have persevered through long-distance and many other trials, all that will remain is the pure gold bar of your faith. Then, God’s delight in you will be so much greater than the excitement of the chemist rejoicing over his creation. 

When all of your sinful tendencies have been stripped away, what will God see? When your purification is complete, what will be revealed in you? Jesus Christ. And everyone will praise, glorify, and honor Him for the work He has completed in you.

That is something to hold onto, something to hope for, something to rejoice in during this trial. Long-distance may be full of grief and sorrow, but it is not the end. As Romans 8:18 says, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

Persevere With The Future In Mind

Peter says you shouldn’t be surprised when trials arrive in your life, “as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). Trials are a non-negotiable part of the Christian life.

So when the next wave of sadness sweeps over you, how should you respond? As 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, take your eyes away from the present and fix them on the unseen eternity. Look ahead to the glorious moment when Jesus will be fully revealed in you.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self his being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Has God purified you through the trial of long-distance in some way? We’d love to hear your story and possibly share it to encourage others. Please send an email to Aurora at [email protected] if you’re interested.

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