Trouble: Will you let it refine you?
1 Peter 1:6-9 “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”
According to Scripture, pain has a purpose in our lives. Three years ago, while in the throng of a trial, it all made very little made sense. As I have now grown as a result of that pain, I see how it has benefitted myself in ways I could never have imagined. One of the ways it has changed me is by causing a more in-tune heart in me. I am more willing to be in the trenches with someone who is walking through grief. Having been there myself, I can relate. My heart is more full of compassion, more considerate. Of course not always 100% of the time, but I do find sympathy to come more easily. In this, God has made an area of my life to grow to be more like Himself. Purified, so I can sympathize with others, as Christ did. Another way it has helped me is to cause me to be more thankful, also that my faith is strengthened, my joy is deeper, and I am more satisfied in Him. Many who have gone through trouble can attest to the transforming work God has accomplished through it in their lives.
James, Peter, and Paul wrote about the refining process that comes through pain. Peter talks of it causing our faith to be refined as gold. James 1 talks of the perseverance through trial being a blessing, and leading to a crown of life. In Romans 5, Paul writes, that tribulation brings perseverance, character, and hope. Over and over again the Bible makes it clear that pain has its purpose in our lives.
C. S. Lewis wrote in The Problem of Pain, “I am not arguing that pain is not painful. Pain hurts. I am only trying to show that the old Christian doctrine that being made perfect through suffering is not incredible. To prove it palatable is beyond my design.”
It is not, as C. S. Lewis put it, “palatable” yet it is a way in which God works in our lives to purify us. In a way it is a mystery to us. Even Christ was made perfect in suffering as the author of Hebrews wrote, Hebrews 5:8-9 NASB “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.” I can only speak from my experience. I have dealt with a miscarriage, seen the elderly and the young taken from this world, I have seen suffering of others, and wept with them, said goodbyes that I knew would be permanent in this life, grieved over the loss of dreams and purpose, battled with depression, and wept for the things that could never be. It is not a distant concept to me, to deal with life’s difficulties. I do take courage though, when I see I am not the only one. That Christ Jesus has gone before me, dealt with the rejection of all men, was tempted and tried in every way, beaten, and crucified. He also rose again, and in this, I have, without question, HOPE.
The path we take through this life is bound for trouble, but I know I can walk assured and soundly through the hope I have in Christ. No one has to go through it alone, We are being refined, purified, established and strengthened as we go through this life, to move towards the eternal Hope of Glory in Heaven.
1 Peter 5:9 NASB “But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”
While these have been the musings of my heart, and the stirrings of thoughts I have. There have been quite a few good authors and teachers who have shared on pain and suffering in life, with more skill perhaps. Here are two of my favorite books on the subject, and there are many more, ranging from specific instances to broad thoughts on the subject.
Warren Weirsbe, When Life Falls Apart, Revell (September 1998)
C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, HarperOne; 1 edition (March 3, 2009)