From Suffering to Refined

“If any of you, my hearers, are seeking the Lord at this time, I want you to understand what it means: you are seeking a fire which will test you, and consume much of what has been dear to you.” – Charles Spurgeon

To seek God is to seek a fire. A fire which will not consume you, but will refine you into the image of your best and highest self. I’ve been seeing and hearing the word refine over and over again and I believe God is using this time, shutting down the whole world, to refine us. 

Here’s one definition of refine: To purify from what is gross, coarse, vulgar, inelegant, low, and the like; to make elegant or excellent; to polish; as, to refine the manners, the language, the style, the taste, the intellect, or the moral feelings.

God doesn’t condemn us for our less than savory ways. He convicts us and usually transforms us through a crisis. He allows us to go through trials to force our weaknesses, idols, struggles, and faults to come up to the surface, as the impurities within gold and silver would do in the refining process. And what’s left is the reflection of the refiner in the gold, the silver or in you as well as a renewed strength to endure the next trial.

You see there is a misconception that once a Christian, life won’t hurt anymore. Bad things won’t happen to good people. That we’ll be exempt from pain. But God’s only son wasn’t exempt from pain, so what made us think we would be?

Jesus knew what it was like to be in excruciating and unimaginable pain as he, an innocent man, was mutilated on a cross before crying out to God the Father as he was dying. Where was his justice? He suffered, and I believe the church has not prepared us for suffering. And in that lack of teaching, many people can’t comprehend the idea of pain in this world alongside God being good as something that can coexist.

Jesus, Immanuel, or God with us, is a God and King that no one expected. The expectation of Jesus coming was that of a King David. But Jesus was humble, he served the underserved, he was lowly, he didn’t boast, he wasn’t proud, and he loved radically. He threatened power structures with his radical love. He was misunderstood and still is. He is a God who came down to our level to have a human experience so he could relate to our feelings of betrayal, loss, sadness, fear, and so on. No one expected a God or King of our experience. 

So today, people deny him and are disappointed. But if you would just open up the word, God’s word, you would find out some truths. You would find out that  God never promised that there wouldn’t be giants in your promised land. God never said that weapons wouldn’t be formed against you. God never said that you wouldn’t have trials.

What he did say was that you were going to defeat the giants in your promised land because he was going to see to it that you defeated them. He did say that weapons formed against you would not prosper. And as for trials, Jesus actually said you would have many trials. But he promised to see you through them. He promised his presence.

Suffering sucks. This pandemic has been horrific. It isolated most of us, killed hundreds of thousands, and attacked the bodies of millions. Most of us have been impacted financially, emotionally, mentally and it has made many question their faith. 

But for those who have come closer to Christ during this, know that the walk with him will include facing many trials and obstacles. There will be suffering. But you won’t walk through them alone. When you seek God, you are seeking a loving and mighty God. Know that you are also seeking a fire, which will not consume you, but refine you.