Wednesday, August 19, 2009

August 19, 2009

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing 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
I am going to date myself, but I have a vivid image forever blazoned on my mind of an old Superman episode. I mean really old. Black and white TV old. George Reaves as Superman old. For the two or three of you who might know what I am talking about, there was an episode where Superman took a golf-ball sized lump of coal and squeezed it with his hands until he compressed it into a beautiful sparkling, crystal-clear diamond. I'm wondering why he only did that once, but anyway, that was impressive. And that's a lot of pressure!
It is also a good illustration of how God uses the pressures of life to mold us into something beautiful and valuable. If you can take the pressure, you can get the blessing of spiritual development. And it helps to take the pressure when you remember Who's Hands you are in!
"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. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy," I Peter 6-8
Everyone is familiar with the refining process. Gold or silver ore is placed in a forge and tremendous heat is applied. The intense heat burns out the dross and purifies the metal. What you have after the refining process is called "precious metal". St. Peter compares that image to the effect that fiery trials and suffering can have on your spirit and character. No one enjoys the heat, but if you can endure the heat, you will emerge more pure and precious.
It helps to know that God has His hand on the thermostat.
How can you find joy in suffering? Understand the purpose, remember all the promises, anticipate the finished product and know the Person in control.