(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
If you haven't asked this ‘now’ question, you're probably not breathing or you're seriously comatose. And here's the question, “What in the world is God doing?”
I mean, if you look at this pandemic that we've been through you think, “What in the world is God doing?” If you hear of suffering in people's lives, “What in the world is God doing?” Maybe in your own life, as you face disappointment, you say, “God, where are you? What are you doing? Why is life so hard? Why do so many unexpected things happen? Where are you? What are you doing? Why the trials? Why the hardship? Why the difficulty?”
Well, let me read Peter’s description of ‘now.’
In this you rejoice (those past and future things), though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
There are three words that come out of the pen of Peter that ought to alert you to what is going on now. Fasten your seat belts: grief, trial, test. Those are his descriptors of every Christian's life between the ‘already’ and the ‘not yet.’ Three words that you don't want in your life: grief, trial, and test. And by the use of those three words, Peter is intending to change our thinking about ‘now.’ Please hear this. ‘Now’ was not intended to be comfortable; ‘now’ was intended to be transformational.
If God's intention was that ‘now’ would be comfortable, He's a massive failure and you should turn from Him. And His book isn't worth reading! It's not meant to be comfortable; it's meant to be transformational. And he says, “So, God will bring trial into your life to test you.” Now you’ve got to understand what this means. And to help us, Peter uses this very provocative word picture. It's a word picture of metallurgy. When a metallurgist mines a precious metal, he finds it in an ore state. Ore is not very usable or attractive because it has imperfections in it. So, he has to add a catalytic agent and white-hot heat to liquefy that metal, boil out the imperfections, so that metal reaches its highest state of beauty and its highest state of usability.
Now, hear what I'm about to say, “When you come to Christ, you are an ‘orific’ Christian. I didn't say horrific, I said, “orific.” You have imperfections in you that rob you of your beauty and rob you of your usefulness. God would not be a faithful Redeemer to leave you in that state. So, God, in His grace, will boil you. He will bring the heat of trial into your life, not because He's punishing you, but because He loves you, and wants you to reach a higher state of beauty and a higher state of usability.
Hear what I'm about to say, “God will take you where you have not intended to go in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own.” God will take you where you haven't intended to go in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own. Often, when we're wondering where the grace of God is, His grace is most active. But it's not the grace of release; it's not the grace of relief; those are coming. It's the grace of transformation! And transformation is hard!
Yes, you will face trial. Yes, you will face the unexpected. Yes, you will face difficulty because all those things are a workroom for transforming grace. ‘Now’ isn't meant to be comfortable. ‘Now’ was meant to be transformational and that's a good thing because we are not yet all that we could be in Christ!