What secures us in our trials is not the magnitude of our faith, but the power of the one in whom we have placed it. The smallest bit of faith in God is worth infinitely more than the greatest bit of faith in ourselves, or the strongest measure of faith in faith itself. Faith counts for nothing unless its object is Jesus Christ.
We aren’t certain whether gold is pure or alloyed until it is tested in the fire. We don’t know whether steel is rigid or brittle until it is tested by stress. We can’t have confidence that water is pure until it passes through a filter. And in much the same way, we don’t know what our faith is made of until we face trials. It is the testing of our faith that displays its genuineness, says Peter, and it is passing through the trial that generates praise and glory and honor. Though we do not wish to endure trials and do not deliberately bring them upon ourselves, we know that in the providence of God they are purposeful and meaningful, that they are divine means to make us “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
There are many who face trials and do not pass the test. Some face physical pain and through it grow angry with God and determine they cannot love a God who lets them endure such difficulties. Some face the possibility of persecution and find they prefer to run from the faith than to suffer for it. Some have children who turn to aberrant sexual practices and who prefer to renounce God than fail to affirm their kids. Some watch loved ones suffer and die and determine that a God who permits such things is not worthy of their love, their trust, their admiration. In these ways and so many more, some are tested and, through the test, shown to have a faith that is fraudulent.
Yet there are many others who face such trials and emerge with their faith not only intact, but strengthened. They face physical pain and through it grow in submission to God and confidence in his purposes.