I’ve been under a bit of stress lately. It’s true. I hate to admit it. It’s as if The Refiner has put me in a melting pot and turned up the heat. I’m afraid there won’t be anything left of me once all the impurities have been skimmed away. I’m afraid my heart won’t be able to take it. I’m afraid the fire could burn me alive.
I had a dream the other night. I don’t dream often, but when I do it’s usually significant. A man in my dream was actually begging God to give him a trial. He was telling God to “Bring it on. I want a trial! I need a trial!” I woke up thinking, “What kind of fool is this? Who actually begs God for trials?”
Not me. I don’t like them. AT. ALL. And, yet, I know they’re necessary.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-3
Consider it joy? Part of me wants to say…I don’t think so. There’s nothing about what I’m going through or what I’m feeling that makes me want to jump up and down with joy. But the other part of me…the spiritual part of me…the part of me that longs to be a woman of godly character…the part of me that longs to be a woman of great faith….wants to say, Thank You, Jesus.
The truth is, sometimes I really do need a trial. Sometimes I really do need some time in the Refiner’s fire. Because sometimes I get comfortable. Sometimes I get stuck. Sometimes I get full of myself and that’s not always a pretty picture. Sometimes I need a new perspective. Sometimes I need a change of heart. Sometimes I need more Jesus.
Trials come in many shapes and sizes. They’re as different and unique and as individual as you and I. They’re a common experience for all of humanity. I’m almost certain not one person who reads this has begged God for a trial. Trials are unwelcome. They’re unanticipated and often unexpected. I would no more ask God to send me a trial than I would ask Him to send me to the moon.
BUT….I have asked God to make me more like Jesus. I have asked Him to increase my faith. I have asked Him to remove ugly character traits that aren’t pleasing to Him. I wonder…maybe I’ve asked God for a trial without even knowing it.
The only joy I can find while going through a trial of life is knowing the good that will be produced in me as a result, knowing a purifying quality will take up residence in me. And I can certainly use more perseverance! Who doesn’t want to possess hope in the midst of uncertainty? Peace in the midst of affliction? Power in the midst of temptation? God is the only One who can produce this kind of steadfastness in me. He knows what I need. He knows when I need a trial. Or two.
I want to see trials through the eyes of my Refiner. I want to outlive the pot and survive the heat. I want to know that when the impurities have been skimmed away there I’ll be… a better me. There my heart will be… a purer me. There my life will be…a happier me.
“(This third) I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on My Name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people’, and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’ ” Zechariah 13:9
I don’t think I’ll ever pray for trials to come to me as long as I live, but when they do come–and they will–I’ll trust The Refiner to bring me through the fire because He knows just how much heat I can take. So in the words of Job, the great patriarch of old, I will say, “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10