“I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire that you may be rich”
It’s not that difficult to follow Christ when your life seems to be going well, your needs are being met and you’re being spared from many of the hard and disruptive things that life can bring your way. But what happens when everything seems to turn upside down? A business failure that you’ve poured your life into, a serious disease affecting your or a loved one, a devastating attack against your good name or a wrongful imprisonment?
I just saw a clip of a Hillary Clinton Town Hall meeting where a man shared that he had been wrongfully imprisoned for 40 years on a murder charge. Recently in Brooklyn, NY the former DA has been found guilty of having imprisoned numerous people who have been ultimately found innocent. Jesus warned us that “in this world we would have tribulation”.
There are many ways of responding to these troubles. We can become very bitter and seek to blame others, or we can lose hope and fall badly into despair, or we can decide to use these circumstances to cause us to allow the Lord to deepen our walk with Him.
There are many Christians today who don’t believe that hardship can be sent from God, yet the apostle Paul knew that his imprisonments were a part of God’s plan. Paul described himself as “I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus” Romans 3:1 and “the prisoner of the Lord” Romans 4:1
In a storm with very high winds a tree with shallow roots may be uprooted and destroyed, yet a tree with deep roots with withstand the storm. I recently heard of a man I had known who had died, who had had trouble with drugs for years. He was still fairly young, but the newspaper said they thought it was a suicide. Another many I knew also recently passed away. Both men knew the Lord but it wasn’t enough to keep them on “the straight and narrow path.”
We make decisions every day of our lives to deepen our faith or not. Hardships and trouble doesn’t mean that God has forsaken us and we can use these times to seek Him more fervently. The Bible tells us that “He rewards those who earnestly seek Him”. Hebrews 11:6 God’s intent in our lives is to perfect our character and deepen our faith, not to always insulate us from that which can strengthen us. The book of Isaiah says “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2
We live in a hurting world with many people seeking hope and answers that work. We can trust in ourselves or learn to trust in God. The answer to every problem we face is a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. It is the fervent pursuit of Christ that brings change.
The apostle Paul said “I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ.” Phil 3:8 Only by practicing a fervent pursuit of Christ will we ever come to know the peace that passes all understanding, especially in times of trial.
The apostle Peter tells us “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1: 6- 7
Peter tells us that our faith is of greater value than gold itself. Buying gold refined in the fire requires the payment of a price. It is the development of our faith in the midst of trouble so that the character of Jesus Christ might be revealed in us.