Finding Beauty in the Suffering
“But he knows the way that I take and when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10
In the early days, gold was purified in flames. Molten gold was continuously stirred in a crucible in temperatures over 1000° C in order to remove the impurities which would then float to the top. After enduring such extreme conditions the remaining substance would be 99.9% pure gold making it more precious and worthy than it was prior to the fire.
Now unless your name is Meshach, Shadrach, or Abednego, chances are you will never find yourself being thrown into a literal fire, but as we continue on this Christian walk we will definitely begin to feel the heat crank up on us for the sake of making us into a pure and precious gold. The heat will come in the form of trials and situations that we cannot find understanding in and we may even find ourselves questioning why a loving father would let something so painful happen to his child. It may be a failure, rejection, financial crisis, health issues, or even the loss of a loved one. Whatever form the flame comes in one thing is for certain- that life is full of all these uncertainties that can burn!
It is in these times that the man Job becomes an icon of inspiration because let’s be honest and humble: No matter what we are going through, we probably don’t have it as bad as Job did. With the exception of Jesus, there is hardly anyone who faced as many hardships as the man Job. He was a wealthy and blessed man who the Bible describes as “faultless” but he was still stripped of everything he had including his possessions, family, health, and even his respect. It’s safe to say that he passed through the hottest of fires but if you read to the end of the story you’ll find he did indeed emerge as pure gold. Not only did he received double for everything he lost, but he was also blessed with more wisdom and was able to know God in a deeper, more profound way.
Despite what your trials and tribulations may be tempting you to believe, God loves us so much and that is evident all throughout the Bible. In dark times it is quite easy to lose sight of that however, we need to remember that just like the gold dug up from the earth is impure with contaminants that mask its beauty and quality, so too is our flesh and soul filled with impurities that can come in the way of our growth as Christians. God loves us so He wants us to grow to look more like Him and to learn to tame our flesh and make it submit to the desires of the spirit and sometimes, the way God gets that done is through fire. While it can be uncomfortable, painful, and unbearable, the end result will always be beautiful, invaluable, and well worth it.
When you find yourself in the heat of the fire and you’re so close to getting burned here are a few things to remember.
God loves you and He would never put you through anything that is unnecessary.
He would never let you suffer any hurt that you didn’t need to go through. Think of it like teething, you probably can’t remember but it hurt and itched and you probably chewed on just about anything to make it stop. It was uncomfortable but in hindsight, having your teeth now makes it well worth it.
Your pain is not punishment.
A loving father will discipline his child but not simply because he wants to punish the child for something he/or she did wrong or because his anger at the moment had to be abated, but because he wants the child to become a better person. “The Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastises everyone he accepts as his son.”- Heb 12:6. He disciplines us because he loves us and he has accepted us as his own. When you are going through a tough time and you are tempted to think God is punishing you or forsaking you as a result of a sin you committed, cast those thoughts aside; something beautiful is on the way. If He’s allowing you to go through it, it’s because there is something to be learned and captured through the pain.
God will never take you past your breaking point.
“God is faithful, and he would not let you be tempted beyond your strength” (1 Cor 10:13) If God allows you to go through a difficult moment it is only because he knows without a doubt that you are strong enough to bear it. He is your father who knows you and knit you in your mother’s womb. He knows how much you have grown, needs to grow, and will grow and in that, He will never let you through a fire that will burn you, a darkness that will consume you, a storm that will drown you, nor a moment that will break you. He knows your threshold and He will never go past that. If you are thinking that God is being too hard on you remember: He knows just how strong you are and He is known to give the toughest battles to the strongest warriors!
When you are weak, God is strong
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 cor 12:9) Not only does God disciplines us so we can grow, but he will also provide the strength needed to pass each test life gives us. In the second book of Corinthians, Paul talked about the thorn in his flesh which was the messenger from Satan that was sent to torment him to remind him of his shortcomings and keep him from becoming conceited. He asked God to take it away but instead of doing so God lets him know that He has given him all the strength and power he needs to get through that trial. This truth applies to our lives as well! In whatever trial we face we don’t need to rely on ourselves and our very much limited strength and resources to get through it because He’ll provide the grace; The same grace that took Jesus through the way of the cross is available to us. It’s relieving to know we don’t have to do it alone, that through the valley of the shadow of death He holds our hands, walks with us through every step, and carries us through when we are too tired to walk. He will never leave us nor forsake us and we never have to be afraid because we are never alone. In fact, when we are down and out, desperate, helpless, and feeble that is when God has the most control and power to move in our lives.
For every “L” there’s a Lesson.
God is a man of His Word. He is faithful so He’ll always fulfill his part. What He says is exactly what He will do so if He promised something over your life whether directly or via the scriptures then it shall come to pass exactly as promised. On the same token, we have a responsibility to let the test produce its result. As mentioned in James 1:4, “let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.” We need to patiently go through the situation making sure to learn every lesson along the way and seize all the opportunities to grow our faith and become deeper, more rooted in Christ. We shouldn’t waste the trial by complaining through it or rushing and wishing it over. If we don’t learn the lesson for that season, sooner or later we will have to go through it again until we can grasp what it is that God is trying to teach us in order forus to go to the next place God has for us.
It is in the wilderness of our lives that some of the most beautiful fruits are born so embrace the chaos and always look to God as your source of hope and strength in the suffering!
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