In middle school, I signed up for art class in 6th, 7th and 8th grade. This might surprise those of you who know me well because I am not artistically inclined, but I wasn’t allowed to join the band – as my dad didn’t understand the point of me learning how to play the clarinet – and I couldn’t really think of any other electives, so art it was. I always got straight A’s in “penmanship” in elementary school – which I considered to be a form of art, so I figured it was going to be an easy A.
I mostly struggled through the year (every year) in art class, but there was one part of the year that I always looked forward to. Working with clay.
We were always told what to make, but I was incredibly careful to make my clay creations as perfect as I could. One year, I remember making a mug. In order to make it strong, we had to coil the clay and fasten it together using a tool. Even though the coils didn’t have to be perfect because they would be smoothed out to bind the clay together, my coils had to be perfect. If they weren’t, I’d smash the whole mug and start over and over again until they were just right. I took days to smooth my clay out perfectly, and remember the pride I had carving a big heart on the bottom of it with my initials.
It took 6 weeks to finish my mug, but it was a masterpiece. When I walked into class after it had been glazed in the clay oven, I picked out my mug out of the dozens of other mugs around it. I felt a sense of accomplishment over that mug – it made my heart swell with pride.
That mug was long ago tossed in the trash along with most of my other “art” from middle school, but as Christians we ‘re constantly being molded by God – just like clay. And while we’re being smashed, molded and baked to perfection, we sometimes find it hard to trust God.
Trusting God in hard times can be incredibly challenging.
I love the example of the Refiner’s fire.
The Refiner’s fire is essential to remove the impurities in our lives and actually makes us stronger. But fire equals pain. And pain hurts. Sometimes it hurts so much that we miss what’s waiting for us on the other side of the sorrow, heartache, and unhappiness. We are so focused on the pain, we forget who is allowing us to go through the pain and that He wants better for us than we want for ourselves.
The refiner sits by the fire, watches over it carefully and patiently waits. When he can see His reflection, He knows it’s ready.
Next time you are hurting, remember that He is sitting right there beside you. You are not going through this trial alone. He’ll see you through as soon as He can see His reflection in you!
When we go through difficult circumstances in our lives, we have to learn to ask God what He wants to teach us through that particular circumstance. Those who are brave enough to meet Him in the midst of their problems have the guarantee of His provision. By totally surrendering to Him, we show a willingness to grow and our intimacy with the Lord deepens. We learn to trust Him more, and healing instantly begins. It’s amazing how God can change our outlook completely without changing the circumstances at all!
For you, God, tested us, to purify us like fine silver. (Psalm 66:10)