Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Refiner's Fire

"But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed..." 4:15-18 "For all these things are for your sake, so that the grace that is including more and more people may cause thanksgiving to increase to the glory of God. Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal."
--I Corinthians 4:4-7; 4:15-18 (NET)

Why does God allow his children to experience hardships, or allow some who are already experiencing pain to plummet still further? It is for these reasons: (1) so that we might fall before the sovereign Lord in a state of broken surrender, in order to to be reminded that we have no choice but to radically, deeply depend on him, recognizing our own efforts as ultimately futile, and (2) so that we might be forced to trust that in his infinite love, wisdom, and power, he works for the ultimate good in all situations-- whether or not we perceive it. Out of the sadness, weeping, wailing and chaos of his beloved children, God can bring comfort, peace, order, and healing, and thus displays his perfect love, grace and glory.

And yet, all too often this hope is not felt: "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God," the Psalmist says to his own aching soul. - Psalm 42:11 (NIV)

By all means, lament at the brokenness of the world, but turn your face to the only one who is able to save, able to restore. He is our source of hope for glorious redemption to come.

"When the fig tree does not bud,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
when the olive trees do not produce,
and the fields yield no crops;
when the sheep disappear from the pen,
and there are no cattle in the stalls,
3:18 I will rejoice because of the Lord;
I will be happy because of the God who delivers me!
3:19 The sovereign Lord is my source of strength.
He gives me the agility of a deer;
he enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain."
Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NET)

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul.


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