“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:6–9, AV)
Years ago, I determined to run in a half-marathon,a race of 13.1 miles. I trained for three months to run the race. I had never run a race of that length before and the only goal I had was to finish. The date of the race came and it was cold, some 29 degrees at the start. Everyone was shivering. The gun sounded and we started. The first two miles were pretty tough and then I began to get into a rhythm. No longer did I think about my breathing, but just focused on the goal. Along the way, there were some hills, which caused a bit of extra energy. However, at about mile number 11, I began to get cramps in my feet and my legs started to give out. It was an endurance race and now the race was testing my stamina.
With my strength somewhat giving out, I began eating some energy gels, hoping to get enough energy to keep going. Then my toes began to cramp. I walked for a minute to try to work the cramps out, to no avail. In fact, walking seemed to make things worse. I had two choices, quit or finish the race. I decided to run through the pain. It was the thought of reaching the destination that kept me going. I kept my eyes on the finish line and the finisher’s medal. Well, I did finish the race. In fact, I placed third in my age group, the sub-ancient group of those between 60 and 69.
The Christian life is like an endurance race. Along the way we will encounter various trials. Many will seem insurmountable but they are not. Peter wrote to believers who were encountering various trials in their Christian lives. These trials were likely those that were a direct result of their faith, e.g., religious persecution. Peter gives them several key thoughts regarding enduring persecution with joy.
First, Peter indicates that these trials are temporary, they will not last forever. Second, the trials have a purpose, strengthening and causing us to grow in Christlikeness. Third, enduring persecution proves the genuineness of a believer’s faith. Last, enduring these types of trials achieves praise, glory, and honor for every believer at the appearing of our Lord Jesus. In enduring trials, there is great reward.
Peter concluded this thought by writing that those who had not seen Jesus do love Him. Furthermore, even though believers do not see Him now, they believe and are filled with joy, a joy that is “unspeakable and full of glory.” The reason for this is twofold. First, it is the present reality of their salvation. Peter wrote that the believers are receiving the outcome of their faith even now in their present deliverance over sin and its power. Second, they rejoice because of the future glory when they shall meet the Lord on that day of His appearing. Thus, we run the Christian race in this life through all its trials and tribulations because of our present blessings with our eyes fixed upon those we will experience in glory.