After 'Fire Of Affliction' Should Come Expectation Of The Lord's Good Fortune
By Michael H. Brown
It often seems weird when we hear people say that one of God's gifts is suffering. How can that be okay? Can pain -- being squeezed like an orange -- really be good?
"Behold," says Sacred Scripture, "I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction."
And so it is in life: no one can escape the purifications God has designed for our lives, and we don't know when they will come nor what form they will take. We can only say that if we are properly prepared -- and have faith -- all tests are good tests. All tests bear fruit.
Maybe it's better to go to the analogy with another precious metal, gold. As Christian writer John Bevere points out (in a book called The Bait of Satan), "The first step in refining gold is grinding it into a powder and mixing it with a substance called flux. Then the mixture is placed in a furnace and melted by intense heat. The alloys and impurities are drawn to the flux and rise to the surface. The impurities (or dross) are then removed -- yielding a purer metal."
What "dross" does God seek to purge in us? Start with pride. He often seeks to rid us of pride. Think of all its manifestations. He seeks to rid us of bad tempers, anger, selfishness, hatred, criticality, covetousness, ego, and other hindrances to the best of eternity. He wants to make our hearts like gold -- which, when refined, is free of corrosion and is soft and pliable.
And so it is: Who has not felt the heat? Or the cold? Indeed, we often struggle to flee afflictions like the climate and yet a lesson is learned from Florida -- where, as farmers will tell you, the colder the winter is for trees, the sweeter the oranges.
The same is true for other "unpleasant" weather. How do trees endure the hot sun or intense rain? How do they react to strong winds?
They send their roots down deeper and in doing so enhance their stability.
The harshness of the elements improves them to the point where even the greatest of windstorms cannot affect their ability to bear good fruit!
When we are being purified, we thus thank the Lord, as unlikely and strange as this may seem to those who think they must find Heaven on earth. No; we are not of this world (we are just passing through) and we must always keep our eyes on the eternity that God always sees (along with our place in it).
This takes us to the second part of this little lesson: To rise above affliction, we too have to glimpse into eternity, and we have to expect the good fortune of God. We have to know that He ultimately has great things in store for us. We have to realize that He wants us to shine. We have to realize that when He purifies us it is for the long run. After suffering, expect good things. Know that God has plenty of good in store for you. Know that He has a wide range of gifts. He wants your happiness. He seeks it. It is His design. Listen to Scripture: "He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper" [Psalm 1:3].
When we realize that, we grow in our expectation, and with expectation, which is faith, comes the fullness of Heaven's joy.
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