The refining process is painful. It sometimes feels like I’m in a pressure cooker. I can feel the battle raging between flesh and spirit inside me and it’s not a fun situation. And really, what I’m going through is nothing comparatively speaking. But I’m not comparing myself for once and I’m just gonna wallow in my pain and suffering, okay? Anyway, it’s hard to deal with the emotional upheaval that’s happening and the destruction of my sin nature. But it’s necessary, and it’ll be worth it when I’m “lacking nothing” as James says:
“Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”James 1:2-4, NASB
JOY in Suffering???
How does one consider it joy? Pain is not joyful. Neither is self-denial. I like to equate my giving over of my self, my sin, my will to the Elaine dance (Seinfeld, circa 1996). I don’t wanna, but I gotta, and it ain’t pretty let me tell you. My flesh wants to stay, my will wants its way, and it will try to win at every instance. It doesn’t want to burn, it wants to thrive like it’s 1995 if you know what I mean (I don’t even know what I mean).
As painful as putting myself on the altar is (imagine an unbeliever reading that!), it must be done. We are called to take up our cross and follow Him (Jesus), to sacrifice ourselves to Him as our reasonable service (even better Christian lingo for ya there), and work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (believe me, I’m trembling).
I want the refining because if I can endure the discipline of the Lord, learn from Him, and obey Him, I will be the best me I could ever be (I’m rhyming a lot in this, aren’t I?). So, I will give Him full reign over my life and allow the Holy Spirit to convict me of my sin. Some is ignorant and He has to tell me in weird ways or through friends. Then I’m like Homer Simpson over there…But, it’s for the best. Convict me, Lord. No matter what it is, I will give it up. No matter the pain, no matter how hard it is to let go, I will. Because His will is what I want.
Take a Page from Job’s Book (no really, go read it):
Now look, Job went through the ringer like no one else I can think of on earth. This guy had his family, his cattle, and his health ravaged by the devil. Why? Because the devil reported to God and when God asked where he’d been, he said he’d been roaming the earth. God asked whether he’d seen his servant Job (he was proud of the guy for being so faithful to Him), and Satan said, well yeah of course he’s gonna love you; the guy has everything. He immediately accused him saying if God allowed him (Satan) to strike his family, he’d curse God. God knew Job, so it wasn’t even a bet. Okay, but don’t harm him, God allowed. This went on a few times, and we see Job’s response. His friends and even his wife were trying to get him to just give up. “Just curse God and die,” his wife urged (some wife, geez). But, Job gives this incredible answer to all of his suffering:
“Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him…”Job 13:15a
He goes on to say that he will still maintain his ways, or rather, prove his ways knowing God is just and will see his righteousness and honor it. But, this verse is to me (whether some say it is translated wrong or not) a courageous stance. It says, “Come at me, bruh,” if I may be so bold. It says no matter what happens, I will praise Him, rely on Him, put my faith in Him and trust Him. Ya know what happens to Job? The pain didn’t subside right away, he lost his family, his cattle, his health, almost his mind I assume. You don’t lose that much and come out of it unscathed, you know? But he remained faithful and God repaid. He ended up with more than he ever had. More kids, more family, more on his ranch, got rid of the leprosy and the pain, and lived happily ever after. I can imagine he still mourned what he lost, but God brought Him to a place of joy and rest again.
So, although this refining is painful, I will take up Job’s stance. No matter what comes (God help me be true to this), whatever the devil throws my way, whatever I have to put on the altar, I will yet praise Him. I will trust in my God, for no matter what is happening, He is still God. He is still faithful.
Will you say the same?
Let’s make our choice today. Let’s take our stand now. Yes, Lord. Whatever it takes, wherever You take me, whenever I get there, however much it hurts, I will follow You.