Refined By The Fire

Where is God in our trials? When we call, Jesus runs to our cry. He is able to help us because He knows exactly what our cries sound like. Aren’t you glad He does?! 

While we are in these difficult times, you might find yourself asking a question I have asked, “Okay, God, I believe You are doing something, but what exactly are You doing?” 

I can’t tell you specifically what God is doing in your life, because your story is unique and special. But I can tell you that during the hard, painful chapters of our lives, God is accomplishing at least five things in all of us.

  1. God is opening our eyes to new paradigms

We will learn lessons in these fiery trials that we couldn’t possibly learn any other way. 

  1. God is building empathy in us which we didn’t have before

One dictionary defines empathy as “the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings.” It’s only because of our trials that we no longer have to imagine what someone else is feeling, but instead we know exactly what they’re feeling and how we can help. 

  1. God is growing our patience 

It’s been said that patience is the “mother of all other virtues.” Paul said that “these troubles produce patience” (Romans 5:3). As God grows your patience, He will also help you to grow all of the other Christlike virtues. 

  1. God is refining His character in us 

Paul went on to add that not only does trouble produce patience, but “patience produces character” (Romans 5:4). During the times of difficulty and uncertainty, we become more aware of deficiencies in our character. 

  1. God is building in us an unshakable hope in His future grace 

Hope is not wishful thinking; it’s well-founded believing! 

I want to circle back to that word refining because I think that best sums up what God is doing in our painful times. Romans 8 tells us—The Spirit Himself thus testifies together with our own spirit, assuring us that we are children of God. And if we are His children, then we are His heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ—sharing His inheritance with Him; only we must share His suffering if we are to share His glory. But what of that? For I consider that the sufferings of this present time—this present life—are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us! (Romans 8:15-18) 

So where’s God in this time of fire? He is overseeing our trial as a Perfect Refiner. Do you know how the silversmith knows he has purified the impurities from the silver ore? The silver is pure when he can see his own reflection in the silver! 

In the heat of your trial, God is close to you. He knows the perfect temperature and the precise time that it will take to allow His face to be seen in you! 

Sometimes you will see what God is doing through your furnace time, sometimes you won’t. But don’t ever bail out! God IS working! He is giving you a new perspective, a deeper empathy, more patience, an unshakable hope, and most of all—He is removing the impurities that will allow His face to be seen more clearly in you! 

Join me this Sunday as we continue to learn where God is in our darkest times. And if you didn’t catch the previous messages in this series, please check out The God That Runs To You and How Long Will This Last?

Poetry Saturday—On Another’s Sorrow

Can I see another’s woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another’s grief,
And not seek for kind relief?

Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrow’s share?
Can a father see his child
Weep, nor be with sorrow filled?

Can a mother sit and hear
An infant groan, an infant fear?
No, no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!

And can He who smiles on all
Hear the wren with sorrows small,
Hear the small bird’s grief and care,
Hear the woes that infants bear—

And not sit beside the next,
Pouring pity in their breast,
And not sit the cradle near,
Weeping tear on infant’s tear?

And not sit both night and day,
Wiping all our tears away?
Oh no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!
He doth give His joy to all:
He becomes an infant small,
He becomes a man of woe,
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy Maker is not by:
Think not thou canst weep a tear,
And thy Maker is not near.

Oh He gives to us His joy,
That our grief He may destroy:
Till our grief is fled an gone
He doth sit by us and moan. —William Blake

When Trials Come

Notice that the title of this post says “when” not “if.” Maybe this will be a newsflash for some of you (but I highly doubt it): Christians will face trials.

Even the apostle James says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy” (James 1:2). Wait, trials are “an opportunity for great joy”? How can that be?!

→ Trials teach us lessons that we can learn in no other way! ←

How much more mature, and wise, and empathetic would we become if instead of trying to get out of the trials that come our way, we would instead see what we could get out of that trial!

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. (Romans 5:3-5)

“When trials come we can try to get out of them, or we can learn to get something out of them.”

—Craig T. Owens

So the next time a trial comes your way, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what lessons you can learn by going through the trial.

Poetry Saturday—Not Understood

Not understood. We move along asunder; 
Our paths grow wider as the seasons creep
Along the years; we marvel and we wonder
Why life is life? and then we fall asleep, 
Not understood. 

Not understood, we gather false impressions 
And hug them closer as the years go by; 
Till virtues often seem to us transgressions; 
And thus men rise and fall, and live and die 
Not understood. 

Not understood! Poor souls with stunted vision 
Oft measure giants with their narrow gauge; 
The poisoned shafts of falsehood and derision 
Are oft impelled ‘gainst those who mould the age, 
Not understood. 

Not understood! The secret springs of action 
Which lie beneath the surface and the show, 
Are disregarded; with self-satisfaction 
We judge our neighbours, and they often go 
Not understood. 

Not understood! How trifles often change us! 
The thoughtless sentence and the fancied slight 
Destroy long years of friendship, and estrange us, 
And on our souls there falls a freezing blight; 
Not understood. 

Not understood. How many breasts are aching
For lack of sympathy! Ah! day by day, 
How many cheerless, lonely hearts are breaking! 
How many noble spirits pass away
Not understood. 

Oh, God! that men would see a little clearer, 
Or judge less harshly where they cannot see; 
O God! that men would draw a littler nearer
To one another, they’d be nearer Thee, 
And understood. —Thomas Bracken

12 Quotes From “Love Like That”

Dr. Les Parrott dives into the loving life of Jesus and takes us with him to discover the five was Jesus loved. Check out my full book review by clicking here, and then enjoy some of the quotes I especially liked. 

“The great hindrance to true enjoyment is our willingness to settle for pitiful pleasures.” 

“What keeps us from being mindful? I can answer this question with one word: agendas. … Every one of us has the capacity to set aside our self-interest, temporarily. We have the ability at any time to press the pause button on what we want. … That’s the moment we become mindful.” 

“Loving like Jesus is not efficient. It takes time away from our own agenda-driven pace.” 

“Jesus was shockingly accessible to anyone who felt undesirable or unwanted—lepers, Gentiles, tax collectors, the poor and persecuted, pagans and sinners. He wasn’t like other ‘holy men’ in Judea. His fellow rabbis operated on the principles of exclusion and isolation.” 

“If you want to love like Jesus, you can’t limit your love to people who deserve it.” 

“God is happy to give unconditional acceptance and unmerited grace to all who will receive it.” 

“We can’t give grace to others when we are aren’t receiving it ourselves. When we’re busy earning acceptance from God, we start to think everyone else should earn it too. Judgmentalism creeps in. Self-righteousness appears. … When we aren’t cognizant of God’s unconditional acceptance in our own lives, we can’t give it to others.” 

“If you want to love like Jesus, you can’t shy away from what you know is right and true. You can’t remain silent just to go unnoticed. Loving like Jesus is not for the chickenhearted. It requires a fierce commitment to being authentic. It requires a bold commitment to being a truth-teller. … No one accused Jesus of being a pushover—or winsome.” 

“Self-giving is selfishness in reverse. It is not concerned with benefits, and it expects nothing in return. … It comes down to motive. You can be a giver and still expect something in return. … True self-giving is offering the best of who you are to others, and it comes with no strings attached.” 

“The long and short of it is that we love like Jesus when we allow Jesus to love through us. It’s not about our effort. We are not trying to imitate Jesus. It’s an inside job. It’s about being a channel for His love.” 

“Loving like Jesus isn’t achieved as much as it is received.” 

“The word intuition comes from the Latin word intueri, which is roughly translated as meaning ‘to contemplate.’ You see, our intuition stems from what we are considering, what we are sensitive to or attuned to do. … So, if you want to hear from God, you’ve got to slow down enough to clear your head and be attuned to His Spirit. That’s when the sacred gift of God’s whisper is heard—when you become accustomed to His voice.” 

I’ll be sharing more quotes from Love Like That soon, so stay tuned! Updatenew quotes are posted here.

11 Quotes From “The Way Of Abundance”

Ann Voskamp speaks lovingly to the hurting and broken. She never condemns them for their brokenness, nor does she encourage them to stay in their difficult place. Instead, Ann brings a new perspective to the path of healing; a path that allows our brokenness to become our givenness to other broken and hurting people. This is The Way Of Abundance. Be sure to check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“Go fall in love with grace and mercy and the only One who has ever loved you to death—and back to the realest, abundant life. Because the world is begging us all to get out of bed and live given, get out of bed and sacrifice for someone hurting, for someone different, for someone forgotten or marginalized, to hold the hand of someone who doesn’t look like a us, to lean in and listen to someone angry and grieving and doubting the likes of us, to give a bit of ourselves to those who feel like they aren’t given much real space at the table.” 

“The real Jesus turns our questions of why—why this brokenness, why this darkness?—and says, ‘You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here.’ ‘This happened so the power of God could be seen in him’ [John 9:3]. There’s brokenness that’s not about blame. There’s brokenness that makes a canvas for God’s light to be lavishly splashed across the darkness. There’s brokenness that carves windows straight into our souls. Brokenness cracks open a soul so the power of God can crack the darkness in the world.” 

“When you aren’t afraid of being afraid, you transform fear into friend. … Feelings can accompany you, but they don’t get to control you. Feelings get to inform you, but they don’t get to form you. Feelings get to keep you company, but they don’t get to keep you in bondage. Only God keeps you.” 

“We are always lost until our heart makes its home inside of someone else. Our lives are unfulfilling if we only let our hearts fill us instead of filling other people’s broken places. The art of living is believing there is enough love in you, that you are loved enough by Him, to be made into love to give. Fulfilling lives happen when we give our hearts to fill other people’s empty spaces.” 

“There are really only two choices when begging temptation looks you square in your twitching eye: there is either the pain of self-denial, or the pain of self-destruction. … They’ll tell you there’s no such thing called temptation anymore, only repressed self-limitation. They’ll tell you temptation isn’t an issue for the sophisticated. And all I want to say: just don’t say you’re a follower of Christ if you’re actually following your own heart.” 

“Shame dies when stories are told in safe places. … Shame gets unspeakable power only if it’s unspeakable.” 

“The only way to live a truly remarkable life is not to get everyone to notice you, but to leave noticeable marks of His love everywhere you go.” 

“When you feel basically respectable, you want religion. And when you know you feel the brokenness of rejection, you want the gospel. In religion, it’s the ‘respectable’ who search for a God to impress. But in the Gospel, it’s God who searches for the brokenhearted rejected to save.” 

“Never fear the moments you imagine will freeze you: unexpected blasts of cold can be what draws you nearer to the flame of His love.” 

“The body of Christ must recapture its vision as the only collective in the world that exists for its nonmembers. … We are a community that will not dish out condemnation but courage, that will lean in and listen long and love large.” 

“You love as much as you are willing to be inconvenienced. … The brokenness of people is never truly an intrusion. Loving the broken people when it is inconvenient is the way to have fuller inclusion in the life of Christ.” 

8 Quotes From “How To Listen So People Will Talk”

In How To Listen So People Will Talk you will learn some invaluable skills for taking your relationships and your leadership deeper. Becky Harling has given us an amazing resource! Check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“Honestly, it’s impossible to be a good listener without developing a humble spirit. Think about it. When you’re listening and fully engaged, you allow the other person to have all the attention. Listening forces you to lay aside your agenda. It challenges you to let go of your need to share your opinions, theories, and assumptions in favor of listening to another’s feelings, thoughts, and sentiments. That decision can only come from a heart of humility.” 

“Resist the urge to dive in with your own story. … Whenever you dive in with your own story, you are stealing the microphone from the person who is telling their story. … The best advice is to remember to let someone be the star of their own show. Keep the focus on the person talking.” 

“How is it that we who have problems ourselves are so quick to try to fix someone else’s problem? James was spot on when he wrote, ‘Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak’ (James 1:19). I’d like to suggest that a great paraphrase for this verse is, ‘Let everyone be quick to listen and slow to give advice!’” 

“Don’t tell people what to do; ask them questions. … You gain greater insight, they gain greater self-awareness, and the two of you grow closer. … When we dare to ask someone what they want, we give them the opportunity to verbalize their need. … The best questions allow people to explore what’s in their hearts.” 

“When you validate another person’s feelings, you’re basically saying, ‘Your feelings make sense.’ You compassionately acknowledge that the person’s feelings are important and that those feelings are understandable. You don’t correct feelings or instruct a person on how to feel. You simply offer understanding. … Validating someone’s feelings doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with the actions of the other person. … Feelings are neither right nor wrong. They’re just feelings. It’s what we do with those feelings that determines whether or not we sin. … Validate feelings, but only validate actions that line up with Scripture.” 

“In your relationships, what does it look like for you to mimic Jesus and show others how valuable they are? How does your face send the signal, ‘I want to hear what you have to say’? Your nonverbal signals act as a green light, inviting others to share their feelings.” 

“Conflict can be transformational. In the chaos of an argument, if you will listen to understand and focus on meeting the others need, you’ll be more able to work as a team, coming up with a solution that satisfies both. In the end, your relationship will emerge stronger and more resilient.” 

“People are dying to feel heard, and unless we’ve purpose in our hearts to offer our full presence to others, we’ll drift through life distracted and dishonor those who matter to us in the process.” 

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