Purification by Affliction

4.04.2011

Trials, struggles, adversity...

No matter how you put it, affliction is hard. And honestly, there is no poetic way to say that. I remember my college pastor comparing our struggles with gold going through it's process in order to be purified. I amen'ed and wrote fervently in my journal those exact words. But did I really understand the weight of them or what they truly mean?

Do I now?

Answer for both; no. Yes, I've gone through trials and I feel as though my faith has been tested and made stronger. But when I'm honest with myself, I know the trials I've gone through at this point, are nothing compared to the ones that are to come. I also know that for me learn God's faithfulness, I needed to have each trial that I've gone through because I've come out on the other side of every one. Weakness and uncertainty may filled every bone in my body during those moments, but the fact that I made it through, is proof of God's faithfulness.
I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are righteous, And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. Oh may Your lovingkindness comfort me, according to Your word to Your servant. Psalm 119:75-76

It's so easy when life is good and easy and affliction free to believe and trust those words.  It's simple to read those verses and pray for others and their struggles when you're thanking God for the goodness of your life. But what happens when you lose your job? Or when your doctor calls and says he/she needs you to come back in for additional tests? Or what about when someone you love so dearly is taken away from you long before their time? Then what? Is it easy to trust those words or to pray for yourself and those around you? Chances are, no. But praise God for the people that He places in our lives for such seasons. For the people that remind you, while life is hard and God's will is something you don't understand at this moment, He is still good and He still in control.

The only way to gain physical strength is to work your muscles and train your body. The only way to gain spiritual strength is pray. Sounds simple, but to pray in complete faith is something that can only come with experiences where you feel the most unfaithful. The ones that you wonder if it's your lack of faith that put you in this situation in the first place.

Or maybe that's just me.

And no matter how many times I'm told that the God I worship is not a petty or vindictive, I can't help but wonder if He's more like me than not.  He, of course, is not. He's not a bit like me. Which is why He's worthy of worship and complete and utter trust. My ways are not His ways, nor my thoughts His thoughts. There is a song that we sing at church called "Through the Fire" and in the chorus are these words;
But he said help would always come in time
Just remember when you're standing in the valley of decision
And the adversary says give in
Just hold on, our Lord will show up
And he will take you through the fire again
I love this song. God shows up, on time, every time. And the fire we have to go through? If we are holding on to His hand, He'll not only shield us from the flames, but He will pull us through to the other side. I know that for the rest of my days on this earth, I will have to learn this over and over. But with that, I know that with affliction comes purification. And with purification, faithfulness.

And with faithfulness, victory.

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