I was struck by a few phrases in 1 Peter 1:6 as I read this morning. The epistle begins with a reminder of the identity of the “pilgrims of the Dispersion” in Christ (verses 1-5). They are begotten to a living hope, possess an incorruptible inheritance, and were kept by the power of God. However these people would also face, and were currently facing, various trials, some of which apparently were so difficult as to shake the foundations of one’s faith. Then these few words are thrown in for perspective.
First, “for a little while”. The trials are temporary, fleeting, short-living in comparison with the “inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” While in the midst of the trial, it can often seem that the struggle will never end, that there is no rest or hope for a day without the burdens. However, Peter brings this great reminder that the trial is merely “for a little while.” All of the struggling, striving and suffering of this present world is temporary, and all of the glories of the Lord available to us through the resurrection of Jesus are eternal. So endure the present trial, though you feel weak. Continue in your faith, service and worship of the Lord, for He shall bring you through and give you that inheritance that is “reserved in heaven for you.”
Second, the little phrase that follows is “if need be”. None of the trials or suffering are pointless or in vain. There is a need to endure the trial, as the Father is using the situation to bring about the good (don’t we all like to quote Romans 8:28 in times like these!) Though the trial brings temporary suffering now, it will bring forth worthwhile fruit soon! Your suffering is not in vain, but has meaning and purpose. It is forming a character in you that is more precious than the finest gold. It is providing a witness to those around you who are challenged or encouraged by your faith, that they too might have the same hope. Your endurance through the trial is a testimony to the whole spiritual realm of faith, hope and the grace and mercy of the Lord, which puts the devil to shame and causes the angels to celebrate. So stand firm, and know that the trial is necessary, that the Lord is working something far more than you may ever know until you stand before Him and see the plan all along.
Verses 7-9 talk about some of the benefits of rejoicing in the fact of our hope in Christ. Namely, that “the genuineness of your faith… may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ… receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls.” Keep your eternal perspective. Remember the ultimate goal is your holiness, not your happiness. God will bring about holiness in you through the trial, and you will be able to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ because you will be more like Him in character and conduct (see 1 John 3:2-3).