Last week Susan mentioned to me some facts of history that she and Brynden had been learning about. One had to do with how people would break the edges off of gold bars before using them to buy materials. It was a means of getting ahead by cheating others. To prevent this practice they began to mint gold coins.
I found this little tidbit of history interesting but wondered how they could break the edges off of hard bars of gold. Every time I’d ever seen gold bars in a movie or TV show they were rock hard; solid enough to break things or hurt people.
Then a couple of days ago I learned that purified gold is actually very soft and pliable. It’s the other metals – copper, iron, nickel, etc. – that make it hard. And the only way to purify gold is to subject it to the intense heat of a fire. The heavier gold sinks to the bottom while the other metals float to the top where they are skimmed off.
The exact same thing happens with our hearts. Sins like unforgiveness, greed, lust, envy, gossip… all contribute to turning our hearts hard. It is a dangerous condition to be in and one that God passionately wants to help us avoid or overcome. But there’s a catch! While Gold is purified through the use of fire, our hearts are made soft and pliable by a different means.
3-5What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.
6-7I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory. ~ 1 Peter 1:3-7 (The Message)
This new life that we’ve been given by the grace of God is in process; it’s ongoing. To fully embrace it God must accomplish a work in us that develops genuine faith which happens ONLY through our exposure to trials and suffering. I wish there were a different way. I wish God could or would just snap His fingers to accomplish the work of transformation necessary in me.
But the trials and hardships of life serve as a fire to bring to the surface those issues of sin that can easily remain hidden when life is smooth sailing. I’ll be honest. I’m fairly disappointed with how I tend to respond to tough times. It’s easy to feel like God has forgotten about me. But it’s actually the exact opposite.
The presence of hardships in life means God is not only present with me but actively engaged in the process of transforming me, purifying my faith. As my faith becomes stronger and more pure, I’ll respond to hardships by more quickly trusting God and that in turn will serve to bring Him glory.
So go ahead Lord, stoke the fire!