In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.
1 Peter 1:6-8 (NIV, 1984)
It came last night when I was shopping at Walmart, the long-awaited e-mail from my mom, letting the family know the biopsy from her lung was cancer. This is round #3 for my mom; her first diagnosis of breast cancer came in 2011/2012, and after several years of remission returned in 2018. My mom says she has tremendous peace about the whole situation, and I believe her - she’s always been a woman of faith who is deeply connected to her Savior. Her prayer life in particular has been a great - and humbling - example of how followers of Jesus should respond when facing the trials and tribulations of this fallen world.
Still, it’s hard to think about mom going through all of this again, especially when she just finished up her last treatments and reconstructive surgery. There’s nothing pretty about cancer, and I know there’s always the chance that might not have the ending we all want. It seems there’s no shortage of heartache and sorrow in my network of family and friends - adopted kids diagnosed with prenatal brain damage, a woman faithfully serving the Lord with her family in a sensitive part of the world who has to come home because of aggressive breast cancer, an unknown infection that lands us in the hospital, chronic pain… It’s all exactly as the Bible told us, right? “In this life you will have trials but - BUT - take heart, I have overcome the world!”
That “but” may be one of the most important words in the whole Bible, because it’s the bridge that takes us from despair to hope. Suffering and loss on one side, but restoration, comfort, peace, and hope on the other through Jesus Christ.
Joni Eareckson Tada recently finished her second round of breast cancer, a journey that quite literally took her to the edge of “the valley of the shadow of death” as her treatments at one point left her unable to breathe on her own. Her devotional for today is titled “Tried-by’Fire Trust,” and is based on I Peter 1:6-8, where the apostle writes:
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”
How do we respond when a simple dive into shallow water leaves us paralyzed for life below the neck? Does a life with unending chronic pain have meaning and purpose? Is God still good when loved ones die unexpectedly or endure years of slow, crippling decline because of sickness or disease? Joni shares these encouraging words:
Just think! We prove our faith to be genuine when we demonstrate confidence in Christ during a painful trial. What’s more—and this is the amazing part—that same confidence will result in praise and honor and glory when Jesus returns. Are you looking for a golden gift to give Jesus on His coronation day? Let it be your genuine, tried-by-fire trust in Him!
The trials of this life aren’t easy, but they aren’t meaningless either. When we respond to suffering and loss with faith, we produce a priceless treasure that will endure for all eternity. May that truth give all of us hope today!