The Blessings Found in the Fire
“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.” Malachi 3:3 (ESV)
Yesterday my wife and I took our kids to Adventureland - we had a great time, but the long day on my feet really took its toll. 2019 has been a challenging year in my 8+ year long journey through chronic pain, especially in the mornings. Yesterday I woke up in tears the pain was so severe, and today was an even bigger struggle. Somehow, someway, God gives me what I need just one day at a time - I appreciate his provision more than words can express, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t wear on my soul. It’s hard to get excited about the future when I often wonder if I’m going to make it through today…
Have you ever been in a place like that? Maybe you’re there right now. If so you’ll probably have no trouble at all relating to what Lysa TerKeurst from Proverbs 31 Ministries has to say in her devotional “The Blessings Found in the Fire.” I feel like I could have written her opening statement:
Do you ever get tired of the constant battles in your life?
Let me be the first to say I understand.
There are times it feels like I hardly get one issue resolved when another seems to pop up. Not that I go looking for problems; they just seem to be incredibly adept at finding me.
Tired of the constant battles? Yep - that’s me! However, there’s another side to this coin that Lysa has experienced, and I know I have as well. She writes:
I'm learning, though, to view my troubles in life as “growth opportunities.” They give me a chance to recognize God shaping and molding me to fit the calling He's given me. They remind me God is interested in my character, not my comfort.
Lysa references Malachi 3:3, where the prophet writes: “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.” That’s what the hardships and sufferings of this life do - they refine us like silver and gold and transform us into something precious. It’s a process theologians call sanctification, and Lysa reminds us that …”It’s the Lord's continual process of making us holy and wholly set apart for Him. And today's passage reminds us that sometimes the sanctification process involves suffering.”
My wife once mentioned that when you read the backstories of some of modern history’s greatest leaders, they almost all include times to incredible suffering, loss, pain, and/or failure. The artists For King and Country know about hardship and struggle - they’ve experienced both in their personal and professional lives, from disappointment after disappointment for many years at the start of their careers in music to Luke’s wife Courtney’s battle with addiction, and it’s been a huge influence in their music (check out this great article for more background as well as this one about their early struggles in music).
Jesus had to endure the greatest sufferings ever known to accomplish our redemption; is it any wonder we’re asked to go through the same fires - not for our redemption, which Christ has already secured - but so that we can become more like Jesus and help reflect his love and light that others might see and know him.
Are you tired of the never-ending struggles? Don’t give up! I pray you’ll find strength and hope in these parting words from Lysa:
How grateful I am to know that nothing God allows us to go through is pointless. Even in the midst of hurt, He will work things for our good and His glory.