A Reflection on Trouble, Part 2
Hebrews 12:5-7 (ESV)
5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
In our last reflection (found here) we talked about the suffering that occurs in a persons life when they follow the Lord and how the enemy, the so-called ruler of this world, works to stop the spread of the Gospel. But we know that not every Christian is actively engaged in evangelism. In fact, there are some reports by the Barna Group that suggest only 5% of Christians will ever share their faith. This leads us to a second reason why suffering may occur in this life, when God is working to refine you to be closer to his image.
When considering this concept it is helpful to think in terms of metallurgy. To purify a metal it must be superheated and melted down. As it is melted at just the right temperature impurities, called dross, begin to float to the surface and the metal worker scoops this dross out and dumps it. As this process goes on the metal becomes increasingly refined and more like what the refiner wants it to be. This is just like in the life of a Christian. Every person retains a portion of their sin nature even after confessing Christ and undergoing the baptism to new life. We know this is true because there is not one Christian alive who lives a perfect life even after their confession of faith. This being the case, and since it appears we do not willingly give up those things that separate us from Christ, we must be purified and refined through the struggles of life, broken down through trials until all we can do is cling to Christ and his sufficient grace.
Along with the refining processes there is also the testing that comes from God. To go back to our metallurgy analogy before a piece of metal can be shipped off to be used in a project it must first be tested in the lab. How do they test it? They put it in a machine that applies severe pressure to it to find out what its breaking point is. Now when God tests us in this way it is not that he does not know our breaking point and needs to find out, but he needs us to know how little we can take on our own and that when we trust in him there is nothing we cannot take. And you need to know that too.
Prayer: Father, even though it is hard thank you for testing my faith that I might grow into a closer relationship with you and to be made ready for your service. Lord, my life is open to you to do as you will. Amen.