Rising up out of the Ashes
It seems that everyone I talk to recently has been going through trials. I do not mean small trials. Rather, I am referring to life-altering trials – cancer, their teenage daughter is pregnant, they lost their job, their child was removed from school because s/he was involved in drugs on campus, a death in the family, divorce, and the list goes on. These events drive us to our knees and then to our faces, as we go before the Lord asking Him the question I believe He hears more than any other, "Why?"
The truth is, when our lives reach this point, the point where none of our resources remain, we turn to God. He then becomes our salvation in the midst of our trials. He becomes the One we turn to for strength, peace, and comfort. The beauty of turning to our heavenly Father is this: He is always there when His children run to Him.
The Lord can take what man no longer sees as salvageable and create something beautiful from the ashes. I have some friends whose parents’ home burned to the ground a couple months ago. They sent me some pictures of the rubble and I was amazed at the beauty in the ashes. Pieces of glass were twisted into unique creations, something only intense heat can do. Metal was distorted into artful creations. The old claw tub survived and was a piece of art in and of itself. A photography class might have enjoyed the discoveries amidst the ashes. Whereas a person looking at the photos would see the rubble as interesting relics that survived, to the family, each photo represented a piece of their lives that was lost.
One of the photos was a picture of an old Bible lying in the ash heap. The edges were singed, the pages curling upward due to the intensity of the heat emitted from the fire. How interesting that although the house did not survive this fire, the Word of God did.
There is a spiritual lesson here. The Word of God always remains as a tool from which we can draw strength to endure. When we enter fiery trials, we must turn to the Word of God first. I wish this was instinctual for us, but often it is not. The apostle James is very clear on the benefit of trials in our lives:
"Be assured and understand that the trials and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing." (James 1:3-4 Amplified Bible)
James goes on to say that that those who endure are blessed when they are patient under trial (v.12). He reminds us not to blame God for our temptations, for God is incapable of being tempted and therefore tempts no one (v.13). In other words, trials come from without and temptations come from within. If you are being tempted, it is because of an inordinate desire or lustful passion in your life that you need to repent of and give over to the Lord, possibly over and over again until it is no longer a temptation. Trials, however, can serve a very different, but beneficial purpose in our lives. Simply put, trials create a fire in us that can burn off all that is not of the Lord.
Psalm 12:6 reads, "The words and promises of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in an earthen furnace, purified seven times over."
Let’s look at how a silversmith, at the time of the psalmist, refined silver. He initially gathered wood for his fire. Then, carefully building it up, he placed a pot over the flames and began the heating process. The silver would then be heated to a certain temperature, a temperature that the seasoned silversmith knew would cause impurities to rise to the surface. These impurities are referred to as “dross,” and once at the surface, the silversmith scraped them off. He then cleared the ashes, and again gathered wood for another fire with which he reheated the silver, seven times over, bringing this precious metal to such a purified state that when he looked down into the pot, only his reflection remained.By considering the painstaking manner in which the silversmith purified the silver, we can better appreciate its reference in Scripture. Our God is a patient God, carefully handling each of His children, never allowing one to fall through the cracks, always creating beauty from the ashes.
Now consider for a moment that the trial you are currently enduring is bringing you to a place where your great Silversmith can look into your eyes and soul and see only His reflection. Does this picture answer your question, "Why?" Is it worth the struggles to know that your trial is burning off the dross from your fleshly nature in order to produce a true reflection of the Lord? When He removes that which is not of Him, that which keeps you from knowing Him on a deeper level, then He can begin to build in your life that which will bring Him glory. He can teach us things that will help us come alongside another believer and help him in his own trial. He can help prepare us for the days ahead.
If the Lord were to come to you and say; "My child, I am about to take you through the worst trial imaginable. You will raise your fist toward heaven and scream at Me. You will plead with Me for relief from the suffering in your heart. But know this, I will not grant your request. If I put an end to this trial, the lesson will not be learned. That which is keeping you from knowing Me intimately cannot be removed without the completion of this trial. Stopping the trial would mean that the pain thus far was for naught. Here are the details of your trial…."
Upon seeing the upcoming trial in detail, just about every Christian I know would run the other way. They simply would not believe it is something they could handle, nor would they want Him to take them through it. At least half would enter into the trial willingly, but then they would plead for a reprieve before reaching the half-way point. Only a remnant whose hearts longed to know Him intimately would press through to the end.
In His mercy, God rarely shares with us the details of an upcoming trial. Instead, He promises that His Word will give us strength to endure to the end. He promises that if we call upon His name, He will grant us the grace to press through until all dross is removed, and we are purified vessels before our Master Silversmith. Something I always draw upon from the book of Job is the deep knowledge that nothing can touch me without first filtering through the fingers of the Father. This is demonstrated in the first chapter of Job, when Satan had to ask and then be granted permission to even touch Job.
Reading on in Psalm 12, we learn that the Lord is preserving His own from this evil generation. The days we are living in are likened to the time of Sodom and Gomorrah, a time when sin was so rampant in these cities that people no longer cared that they were sinning against God. We are in a season of preparation for many things, one of which is the last days. The Lord is raising up a select group of people, the “reigning ones” that my mother has referred to at the revival services in New Orleans. These people must patiently endure struggles and hardships in order to be adequately prepared to train and assist the army of believers who will live in the last days. In other words, they must undergo many trials, trials that will create in them a reflection of the Father. They will need this to fulfill the call that is on their lives, as they will have many young believers in their care at that time. By humbly accepting that these are critical times, we too can find the strength to press through each trial, particularly if we ask the Lord for the grace needed to endure rather than ask Him, "Why?"
My Mom always says; All suffering is redemptive. This is true. God does not allow us to suffer for His pleasure, but for a deeper purpose in our lives. To draw us closer to Him, to purify us, to strengthen us, to shape us and form us on the potter’s wheel, to prepare us for the days ahead. There are many reasons, and they are all very valid for the Christian today.
One of the keys here is not to give up in the midst of a trial. If we stand steadfastly and come to Him for grace to endure, He will not fail us. It is His great pleasure to grant us the help we need. Yet, apart from steadfastness, we must spend time with God. Prayer develops His Word in our spirits. It enables us to hear His voice in the midst of trials. Like a soldier in the battlefield pressing toward the goal, prayer gives us the strength and direction we need to achieve our goal!
Friends, press through the trials, determine to seek out His Word. If the Word is not in our hearts, how are we to draw from the golden nuggets contained within? The Word of God serves a mighty purpose in the life of the believer. We must tap into this great resource, realizing that it is there for us and that it will help us rise up out of the ashes, beautiful and prepared for His good work!
Blessings in Him,