Category Archives: Enduring Trials

Refining Moments Don’t Have to be Defining Moments

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And some who are most gifted in the things of God will stumble in those days and fall, but this will only refine and cleanse them and make them pure until the final end of their trials, at God’s appointed time.

Daniel 11:35(TLB)

We’ve all heard stories of famous celebrities and athletes at the pinnacle of their careers, gifted with incredible talent and success, who make reckless decisions causing them to stumble and fall. Like sharks in a feeding frenzy, the media quickly exploits these stories to an audience eager for any morsel of juicy details.

There are even biblical examples from our Superstars of Faith who stumbled:

  • Noah became shamelessly drunk on wine.
  • Abraham doubted God would give him and Sarah a son, so he took matters into his own hands and fathered a child with Hagar.
  • Moses lost his temper and disobeyed God’s instructions, costing him the chance to enter the Promised Land.
  • David committed adultery and had a man murdered to cover up his transgression.
  • Peter denied that he ever knew Christ.

We don’t have to be famous to find ourselves in the same types of situations.

We’re all imperfect humans, capable of missteps along the way. Our mistakes aren’t always reported in the judgmental view of the public eye or recorded in the Bible for generations of people to read, but we often find ourselves under the microscope of shame in our own eyes, feeling completely defined by our failures.

For believers, God uses these painful experiences to refine us.

The industrial process of refinement takes a substance with imperfections and impurities, purifying it to its most usable form. The spiritual process of refinement works the same way, only God purifies our lives to bring us to our most usable form for His kingdom.

Refinement removes our impurities.

When we emerge on the other side of the refinement process, we are cleansed and polished, more perfectly suited for God’s call on our lives. Without the cloudy imperfections, we shine for God’s glory!

As children of God, our Refining Moments don’t have to be our Defining Moments.

Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Peter are famous for their faithfulness to God and their work in His kingdom ~ NOT for their failures. Their Refining Moments were not their Defining Moments!

God promises that He can make all things – even our failures – work together for good in the lives of His children. (Romans 8:28) He wants to use every detail of our story for His glory ~ even the times when we stumble and fall.

 

Related Scripture:

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 1:7 – 9 (MSG)

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 (NLT)

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The Problem with Bubble-Wrapped Lives

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“When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God—who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty—and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him.” James 1: 2-5 (Phillips)

I’ll admit it. I wish I could bubble-wrap my sons to keep them free from injury, loss, rejection, failure, heartbreak, insults, or any other painful misfortune life might hurl in their direction. Especially now that my youngest son is driving, I dream about this possibility whenever he leaves the house with keys in hand!

But I recently read about a fascinating experiment in the Arizona desert where scientists attempted to create a perfect living environment for plants, animals, and humans under a protective biodome. This closed ecological system grew fruits, vegetables and trees and was sustained with purified water and air, nutrient-rich soil, and filtered light – a seemingly ideal habitat.

However, the perfect environment did not produce perfect results.

After a period of time, scientists noted a baffling phenomenon. After reaching a certain height, trees in the biosphere toppled over. This puzzled the scientists until they discovered a missing element in their biosphere. They forgot to include wind! Trees need wind to develop strong roots. When winds blow against trees, their root systems grow deeper, which support them as they grow taller.

We wish our lives could be lived in a virtual biosphere, free from the tensions and strains of outside influences. Yet, when daily challenges push against us, they are strengthening our “roots” and producing true patience and endurance, which will equip us for the journey ahead.

So if we bubble-wrap our kids, protecting them from all of life’s struggles, we are setting them up to topple over as adults. They will never develop deep roots of character, perseverance, and resiliency. Without trial-and-error learning, they won’t develop the problem solving skills they need as adults. And, most importantly, we risk losing the opportunity of teaching them to turn to God for help, which deepens their spiritual roots.

Remove the protective layer and allow their roots to grow deep so they will one day stand independently and tall!

“Happy is the person who can hold up under the trials of life…” James 1:12a