These [trials of faith} have come so that your faith --of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:7 (New International Version)
Peter is writing to a persecuted community, and much of this, his first letter, focuses on how the community of faith is to respond to such hardship. While the Apostle is careful, like others, to have God responsible for such trials, he does see that God is honored by the way in which we respond to such trials. If we allow the Spirit to both encourage and empower, even in our suffering we are witnessing the power of God.
The value of gold was not much different in Peter's day than in ours. It was considered the most precious of metals, and had the highest monetary value, even if that was a different concept in the 1st century than the 21st. However, the Apostle makes it clear that faith is more precious than God, because it is able to pass through the refiner's fire unscathed. This is not a human achievement, but the result of divine power.
It is easy when faith is tried to allow it to conform to the world's belief. This might spare us hardship in this life, but will bring us under God's scrutiny at the judgment. Faith is the be transformative, because of who Jesus is. The call to discipleship is more than lip-service to the Gospel, but rather wholehearted devotion to the One who embodies the Gospel, and accomplishes our salvation.