In our daily meditations, we are looking at scriptures that enlighten us about the way God transforms us. Sometimes our lives are full of burdens, and it can seem as if God is nowhere to be found. In fact, it can seem as if He is letting men ride over our heads and laying burdens on our backs. Why would God allow these things to go on in the lives of His children? If you are a Christian, God views our testing as the refining of our character. Just as a metal sword made for combat was put through the fire, refined and hammered on the anvil, in the same way, God allows for trials and difficulties to come to our lives so that we may grow spiritually through them.
10For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. 11You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. 12You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance (Psalm 66:10-12).
See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction (Isaiah 48:10).
Often we don’t see God’s plan until twenty years later when we are enjoying the fruits that come from the trial. In the present, we are often unaware of God's plans and purposes for our lives. Our life experiences would make more sense if we could only look into the future and understand what God is shaping us to become.
What is the fruit of God’s testing? I would say that it is a more significant presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and the maturing of our character—these are the things that please God. Of course, this can result in other blessings in our lives, and the lives of others too. God has a purpose and a plan for each of us. How do I know that? The mother of two of the disciples, James and John, asked if they could sit in the best positions in the Kingdom of God, on the right hand and the left-hand side of Jesus. Jesus replied saying that those places are for those who will endure the cup of suffering in the same way as Jesus would and did. Christ said to James and John:
"You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father" (Matthew 20:23).
What can we infer from this passage and several others? God knows what He is doing. John and James wanted the seats of honor on either side of Jesus, but were they ready to take the same cup of suffering that Jesus would take? To be great in the sight of God is to be a servant of all, and to put self on the altar to serve even through times of suffering. The way up is the way down. Christ must become greater, and we must become less important (John 3:30). God has seen ahead of time those who, in their heart of hearts, want to go all the way with Him. In the preparation and shaping of His people, God prepares opportunities for His servants to be exercised in their role as servants. Outside of time, God sees the end from the beginning. He has a picture of the finished product of your life that He is making you become. You are a product of the choices and responses to different trials that God has prepared in advance for you. When the cup of suffering is handed to you, will you choose to take the way of pain, or will you opt for the easy way out of the trial and compromise your faith?
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
What does the above Scripture say? First, the text says that God Himself is working on you—that you are His workmanship. Secondly, it means that you were created to do certain works that God Himself, before the creation of the world, prepared in advance for you to do. Will you allow Him to shape and mold you to be the person you were created to be? Lay your life down before Him today and sincerely ask Him to have His way in your life—you will never regret that decision! Keith Thomas