Taking the heat

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Fire is a great blessing and a terrible curse. Fire can purify as well as destroy.  Ore containing gold is subjected to intense heat and when it liquefies the precious metal locked in the rock can be drawn off. The process is hard but the result is something of value and beauty.  Are you feeling the heat these days? Is the uncertainty testing your faith, making you feel like you want to give up?  If so, you are not alone. Whatever novelty might have been part of the first couple of weeks of quarantine is long gone. We are seeing the results of slamming on the brakes of the economy as businesses are closing, for good. In many homes, tensions are rising. Christians are experiencing temptation more than ever. Yes, we are in the fire!

Peter, a man who knew about being in tough times, writes to encourage us.  “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These 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 1:6-7, NIV)

In short, he reminds us that trauma can produce transformation IF we endure it while steadied by faith.  The ancient preacher spoke truth for today when he said that God is our Refiner.  He allows us to feel the heat, not to destroy us but to make us holy. “Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:2-3, NIV)

When a person goes to serve in the Marines the first 13 weeks are tough!  Boot camp is designed to shock a young recruit out of his assumptions about life and to mold him into a disciplined soldier. In basic training they are scared silly, intimidated, yelled at, awakened in the middle of the night, have their head shaved, are pushed to physical limits of endurance. To civilians, basic training looks cruelly sadistic. But if you ask the soldier about it when he’s under fire in combat he will tell you that the trauma transformed a bunch of kids into a disciplined, military unit, making him tough enough to stand up under fire.

Wise parents let their offspring appropriately experience difficulties, too. They let them work through conflict, understand disappointment, feel some level of stress all the while standing in the background to keep them from destruction. The wisdom of the Word speaks to us as we go through the fire. “Don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children? My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children.”  (Hebrews 12:5-8)

James 1 is familiar. “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.” (The Message) One might ask, “Is God serious? Why would I welcome tough times as a gift, or as an “opportunity for joy?” (NLT) The short answer is that trauma produces transformation.  It is hard not to complain when you’re getting melted in the fire, but pray for the ability to faithfully welcome the challenge as an opportunity to grow.

Will you accept this truth for times of trial? God says that “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” (I Cor. 10:13 The Message)

Keep these truths in mind when things get tough, when the fire heats up.

First – God is present! We are not alone.

Second – We are called into community! We are part of the Body of Christ. Let’s act like it.

Third – Greater glory awaits! This (what we see today) is not all there is.)

By the way, don’t blame all of your trauma on the Lord. Sometimes we stupidly, sinfully, or shortsightedly invite the fire right into our own heart! Peter wisely says “Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!” (1 Peter 3:17, NLT) “So if you are suffering according to God’s will, keep on doing what is right, and trust yourself to the God who made you, for he will never fail you.” (1 Peter 4:19, NLT)

Here’s a word from the Word for this day:  God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12, NLT)
_________

Blessings

We pray for blessings,
We pray for peace comfort for family
Protection while we sleep
We pray for healing for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand
To ease our suffering
And all the while You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

 ‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise

 We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness
We doubt Your love
As if ev’ry promise from Your Word is not enough
And all the while You hear each desp’rate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

 When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not this is not our home
It’s not our home

 ‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is a revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain the storms the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

Laura Story © 2011 Laura Stories (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)

New Spring (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

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