"You are being guarded by God's power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials, so that the proven character of your faith - more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire - may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." -1 Peter 1:5-7 (CSB)
I'm a part of Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), which has been an incredibly life-giving group, and we've been diving deeply into the Bible. This passage from 1 Peter was one of our passages for the week; it has a lot to chew on, and when I first read it, I wasn't sure where to start.
A question was posed in my Bible study questions for the week - "How does 1 Peter 1:1-12 impact your perspective on suffering?"
The question made me pause.
Peter, I knew, was well-acquainted with suffering. He was no stranger to tough situations.
"How cool," I thought, "to be guarded by God's power! Lord, what does that really look like?"
As I began to really ponder the question, I was drawn to a particular phrase: the proven character of your faith...
I kept mulling the phrase over in my mind. "The proven character of your faith..."
The word "proven" was leaping off the page.
When I think of something being proven, or proving something, I usually think of this common definition: "to establish the existence, truth, or validity of (as by evidence or logic)" (Merriam-Webster).
A different thought came to my mind as the Lord lovingly reminded me that in bread-making, there is also a "proving" (or proofing) process. Feeling a fresh measure of excitement, I researched the process for making bread, curious about the correlation with suffering.
Something about me: I'm a big fan of bread and baking shows. If you love baking shows on Netflix like I do, you may have seen The Great British Bake Off. It's a lighthearted competition in which twelve contestants compete to be the best baker. One of the most brutal judges, Paul Hollywood, shares the technique that I'm going to discuss here.
First, the dough is mixed. In the beginning stage, it's wet and sticky. The next process is kneading: this is necessary to get the gluten really activated. The dough becomes softer and more elastic here. After kneading, the dough rises until it's about double the size. After rising, you have to "knock back" the dough. You fold it on itself, until all the air is knocked out and it's smooth. Now that the dough is smoothed, it can be shaped. It can be shaped however you prefer! The very last stage is proving - it's left to rise before baking. You can tell the dough is ready by gently pressing on it and seeing if it springs back. If it's ready, it goes into the oven.
While this all sounds very technical and confusing, I was overwhelmed thinking about the times that I feel the Father working with me, much like dough. I can feel when He's mixing, and circumstances seem confusing. I can feel when He's kneading, encouraging me to change my perspective. I feel the expansion and rest that comes from the rising. I recognize the knock back, when I have to remember that He's smoothing areas of my innermost being. I sense His shaping, allowing Him to mold me however He pleases, and learning to let His hands take precedence in the shaping over mine. I experience the gentle pressure, the confidence to take another step in the direction He's calling.
Selah. May the peace and confidence of the Father drip over your heart, wherever you may find yourself today.