After my last blog post, I received responses from several friends letting me know that they were going to start applying the principles I shared about God working best through our trials to whatever trial they were going through.
And that got me thinking – it’s such an important lesson that I just might stretch it out into a second blog post! But this time, I don’t want to talk about what I’m going through. I want to shine the spotlight on all the myriad ways that people go through trials and suffering and hopefully reveal that MY lesson can definitely be YOUR lesson.
To recap, I shared how God was clearly refining me through MY fire of losing Dale six months ago. But how many other struggles are people going through right now? How about just in the lives of those of you reading this blog?
Some have also lost a spouse and are grieving that deeply, even years later. Others have lost parents, children, siblings, other relatives, friends, neighbors, even pets! Who or what you grieve doesn’t conform to a pre-approved list!
What about the other ways that you are grieving? What about that broken or difficult relationship with a family member? Or a friend? Or that issue with an addiction that either you or a loved one is struggling with? Or the news that someone dear to you has cancer? Or someone dear CONTINUES to fight cancer? Or some other long-suffering condition? Or what about your own physical or mental health challenges that don’t have answers – or healing? What about a marriage that is struggling? What about a job, or school year, that is challenging, or boring, or too stressful? What about dreams unfulfilled? I think you get the idea. I could go on and on…
Recently I had lunch with a friend and we were discussing this exact topic. I said to her, “This world is not short on troubles.” And she wisely answered, “No, but it is short.” In other words, this world in which we live, that often can seem to be endless, particularly during trials, is really just a whisper in time. James 4:14 says, “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” For Christ-followers, the really good news is that eternity with Jesus is what awaits after this mist is gone!
A few weeks ago, I was blessed to have tickets to the MercyMe concert at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Probably one of, if not the best concert I have ever been to. They performed one of my favorite songs, “Even If,” and Bart Millard, the song-writer and lead singer shared the story behind this song. He has a 16-year-old son who has had Type 1 diabetes since he was 2 years old. And of course, Bart has been praying for healing for 14 years, and seeing his son suffer with this disease just breaks this father’s heart.
He referred us to the story from Daniel 3 about the three men (Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego) who would NOT bow down and worship the golden image as King Nebuchadnezzar had commanded everyone to do. And if anyone refused, they would be thrown into the fiery furnace. These godly men told the king, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (emphasis mine)
Well, if you remember any of your stories from Sunday School days, you know that the furnace did not kill them or hurt them. In fact, there was not even the smell of fire on these men. If you’re interested in the whole story, you can read it here in Daniel 3:8-30.
The men trusted that God would protect them, but the lesson that Bart Millard learned from this passage is that even if God wouldn’t protect them, they would never have bowed down to the golden image. Hence was born the powerful song “Even If.”
So, let’s get back to the main message of this post – how God refines us through our own fires. For those of us grieving the physical loss of a loved one, we know that God is not likely to bring them back from the dead, even though He is powerful enough to do so.
But what about all those other sorrows you’re grieving? Couldn’t God restore your broken relationships? Couldn’t He heal your cancer, or your loved one’s? Just reread that earlier paragraph with the myriad of heartaches listed. Yes, God surely could heal any one of them. And yet, He does not. And that brings us full circle to the “why not.” Because God does His greatest, most permanent work in our lives when we are tested by the fires. He won’t let your fire consume you, but He will let it refine you.
My prayer is that the words from “Even If” (especially the chorus) would become real to you and be your comfort through whatever trial you are currently facing. The song ends with a snippet from a great old hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul.” The words of this hymn become even more powerful when you know the story behind THAT song.
I will close with three additional links. The first is to the MercyMe song, the second is to the old hymn, and the third is to the hymn story behind it.
I hope they speak to your soul as they have to mine countless times!