Wednesday, June 11, 2014

In Affliction - Faith is Strength

This is Part 4 in a series

In this post - comfort zones - refiner's fire - diamonds - marathons

In hard times, faith is what we use to keep going, to get up and try again and to begin anew.

Life isn’t easy.  The challenges we face and overcome teach us and force us to rethink our strategies.  I like these verses in Isaiah 30:21-22

20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:
21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

To me these verses say, when the student is ready, the teacher appears.  And, when the student is humble, the Holy Spirit is able to direct him or her.  Having both a teacher and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in my life indicates that I am going to make it to the next level.  I can only stay stuck if I ignore them.

The Refiner's Fire

Hard times make us wince.   They jostle us out of our comfort zone.  The Bible talks about trials as a refiner’s fire.  The impurities or dross rise up when exposed to heat and are discarded.  So, when the heat is on, we see our weaknesses more clearly.  In our reaction to life’s experiences, we find out where the dross is and how much has to go.  We choose to let go of the bad.  Eventually, we have the best character traits to keep and the worst are gone.  

Life has to be lived in order for Christ’s redemption to be needed and valued when it is received.

An example from the natural world: is found in diamonds, a crystalline form of Carbon.  The crystal is stable at pressures deep in the earth.  If it is pushed by geologic forces slowly to the surface it turns to graphite, a soft mineral used in pencils.  If it is violently ejected to the earth's surface we get to keep the gemstone.  The high pressures and strong forces produce the environment necessary for carbon atoms to be diamonds.  Our souls are being put under strong forces in this mortal existence because the environment produces "diamonds."  Click here to see an image comparing souls to diamonds. 

The same pattern is found in sports like running.  It is only necessary to run for 20 minutes a day to get the benefits of exercise.  But there is a deeper soul benefit to running a marathon because of the effort required to endure such a "high pressure" event for so many miles.

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