Monday, March 24, 2008

The Purpose of Trials

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter. We had the kind of Easter that makes chapter 23, "The Purpose of Trials" relevant. We had just returned from a wonderful three weeks in Arizona to learn that Frank's mom had been hospitalized. We spent Easter Sunday driving to Joplin to see her. It was tough for Frank. "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." (James 1:12) This verse is an encouragement to me as was the whole chapter in Your Best Life Now. Joel says, "We all face challenges, struggles, and times when things don't go our way......God has a divine purpose for every challenge that comes into our lives. He doesn't send problems, but sometimes He allows us to go through them." In difficult times we find what is inside us. I Peter 4:12 says, "Don't be amazed at the fiery ordeal that's taking place to test your quality as though something strange was happening." God uses trials to cleanse us, purify us, and refine us so that we can become the person God wants us to be. Joel says that God is more interested in changing us than He is in changing our circumstances. Do we have what it takes? Will we trust God to get us through the tough spots? God may be trying to toughen us up a little. Will we soar with the eagles? Joel says that without the resistance of air, an eagle can't soar. Our trials serve to make us stronger.


Mutterguse said...

I looked up 'refiner's fire' and the first hit is this:
In Malachi 3:2 it says:
He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. In 1 Peter 1:6-7 it talks about faith being of greater worth than gold,6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 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.
(I was thinking of the story of the lady who was visiting the silversmith and she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"
He smiled at her and answered, "Oh that's easy -- when I see my image in it."
If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image -- in you.)
Trials are a pain, and if we don't keep our eyes on Him, we feel the bite of the fire, as it takes away the impurities, and builds our character to better than fine gold. A picture in a story book comes to mind, of a tiny golden heart that was left after a wooden dolly was dropped on a fire. Brian Doerksen says it so well in the link, "Refiner's fire, My heart's one desire, Is to be holy, set apart for you, Lord. I choose to be holy, set apart for my Master, Ready to do your will.

Patty said...

Rozan, what an excellent post! I enjoyed the song too. This has been a hard couple of days so the verses and the song give me hope that Frank & I will come through this stronger and better than we were before our trial. Hopefully, we will be quick to learn to trust Him in this situation. Please pray with us:

Lord, help us not to worry and be fearful but rather to be calm and peaceful. You are the potter, and we are the clay. We know that all things work together for good. Thank You, Lord.

Patty said...

"Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the test of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4.

Patty said...

I found a lot of consolation and wisdom in the story Joel tells about the codfish and the catfish so I'm going to write out here on the blog. This story makes me realize why we have to go through trials.

"Many years ago, fishing for codfish up in the Northeast had become a lucrative commercial business. The fishing industry recognized that a great market for codfish existed all over America, but they had a major problem in the distribution. At first, they simply froze the fish, as they did all their other products, and shipped it out all across the country. For for some reason, after the codfish were frozen, it lost its taste. So the owners decided to ship the fish in huge tanks filled with fresh seawater. They thought for sure that would solve the problem and keep the fish fresh. But to their dismay, this process only made matter worse. Because the fish were inactive in the tank, they became soft and mushy, and once again lost their taste. ONE day, somebody decided to put some CATFISH in the tank with the codfish. Catfish are a natural enemy of codfish, so as the tank traveled across the country, the codfish had to stay alert and active and be on the lookout for the catfish. Amazingly, when the tank arrived at its destination, the codfish were as fresh and tasty as they were in the Northeast."

I guess this story illustrates the purpose of trials as much as anything.

Mutterguse said...

A friend of mine does a verse-a-day email and this is today's - it matches up with Patty and Frank's blog:

"I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ˜This is My people™; and each one will say, ˜The LORD is my God.Zechariah 13:9 (New King James Version)
God blots out not only the cloud but the thick cloud, enormities as well as infirmities. -- Watson, Thomas
Glen E. Spaugh

Near the bottom is yesterday's and my son's answer is in between. He just left NC for Alaska, arriving there yesterday. He is looking forward to working up there, and at the same time, the future is very cloudy. He loves Winston Churchhill comments, and this one is one he chose to send to me. (His dog is named Magnus, too!)
Magnanimity - the quality of being magnanimous : loftiness of spirit enabling one to bear trouble calmly, to disdain meanness and revenge, and to make sacrimfices for worthy ends
magnanimous - french = magnus or great, + animous = spirit - more at much animate
showing or suggesting a lofty and courageous spirit, showing or suggesting nobility of feeling and generosity of mind, forgiving...
Winston Churchhill desired the nobility of forgiviness and the courage of generosity, and the lofty spirit of one who weathers the throes of calamity and disorder with calmed ease.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." Matthew 5:7 (NKJV)
No child of God sins to that degree as to make himself incapable of forgiveness. -- Bunyan, John

Patty said...

That's so awesome, Rozan. These contributions bless me so much. Right now it is a difficult time for Frank and me. Frank's mother is still in the hospital, and he is working on a big project in Phoenix. I could tell by his voice last night that he is feeling down right now. All these verses and this whole chapter is so meaningful to us right now.....another example of God's perfect timing. I've received so much from this book and this blog so thanks to all of you who contribute and encourage. God bless.

Joyful said...

Patty, thank you for visiting my blog and for your prayers.
I'm going through "refiner's fire", but will come forth as 'gold' as I keep trusting in God.
Thanks for your encouragement.

Patty said...

You are welcome, Joyful. I enjoyed your blog. I appreciated your post about your fear of flying in small planes. We all have our fears. God is so faithful to give us just what we need to refine us and mold us into the person He wants us to be. Praise His holy name!

Digging for Pearls said...

I could use your help. I am trying to survey as many women as possible to find out what ten struggles they face as a Christian woman. If you have a few minutes, I would love your input on my blog in regards to the ten struggles that Christian women face. Thank you!

Please pass this on to your friends as well.

Patty said...

Digging for pearls, I posted my ten struggles on your blog. I have trouble with commitment to exercise and correct eating habits, among many other things. I read the comments on your blog....almost 80 of them! Good stuff...