“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (1 Peter 5:10).
IN CHRIST, IT IS CERTAIN THAT GOD WILL “PERFECT, ESTABLISH, STRENGTHEN, AND SETTLE” US. But that will come at the end of our earthly lives. God will do these things, Peter wrote, “after you have suffered a while.” Right now, a character-building process is going on, and we should be patient while it is running its course.
Repentance. As hard as this world can be at times, its continuation allows us the time we need to repent of our sins. And it is not only the additional time that benefits us, but the hardness of our sojourn encourages us to repent. For most of us, repentance is not a one-time occurrence; it is a process. By a sequence of events, God is teaching us repentance, and the process can’t be rushed.
Refining. God uses the illustration of a precious metal being refined by fire to help us see what needs to happen to our hearts. Peter wrote, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6,7).
Remediation. In many respects, life in the present world is like time spent in a treatment center. The flaws in our character are being remediated, and the process (often very painful) takes time. Only when our inner characters have been prepared and made fit for the eternal enjoyment of God will they be given that privilege.
Among the many other benefits of our difficulties in this world, there is the fact that we will enjoy heaven all the more because we suffered while getting there. “No one truly knows happiness who has not suffered,” as Henri-Frédéric Amiel wrote. So we should not be surprised that our reward will come later. The Hebrew writer said, “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36). That word “after” is a little word, but oh, how important it is in this life. After we have done the will of God . . .
“From the bitterness of disease man learns the sweetness of health” (Spanish Proverb).