If the only thing separating you from $100 million dollars in cash was a 12 foot stream of hot, bubbling lava, would you risk jumping across it to get to the money?
If the only thing separating you from the fountain of youth was a 50 yard swim through shark infested waters, would you dive in?
If the only thing separating you from becoming the most powerful and influential person in the world was a 65 foot corridor where the entire floor was covered in 6 inches of every kind of asp, viper and cobra on the planet, would you stroll on through it?
For me the answers would be, “No!”, “Not on your life!”, and “Are you insane?!!” But as a Christian, I’d start praying for the next ice age to freeze the lava, a drought to dry up the water thus killing all the sharks, and a Hummer to drive over the snakes allowing me to reach the coveted prize and not endure fear, suffering, and discomfort to get it!
I know that these examples are a bit extreme, but if we think about it, how many times do we pray for God to give us superb blessings and expect them to come without doing any work to get to them? I know that I often forget that the Bible tells me that as a Christian I am going to be refined by fire – not by a cool drop of water, or a slight breeze, or even a mild sunburn – FIRE! Ouch! However, as a believer, if I am to grow and mature in the Lord, I have to be prepared to endure and even embrace the flames.
I have found that the times when I receive the greatest blessings from the Lord come directly after enduring some of the toughest times of suffering. I firmly believe that in those times of suffering and hardships, the Lord is working in my life in ways that I may not immediately recognize – he’s refining me little by little into a more complete and excellent example of Him. He’s using heat to mold and shape me into the person he wants me to be so that what I can accomplish for Him will bring even more glory to his name.
I also believe that during those times of testing, he’s preparing my heart to receive the bountiful blessings that He has in store for me. And without those times of trials and suffering, I would not be able to fully appreciate or recognize the blessings as coming from the Lord.
Bringing this to a personal level: how many times do we pray for the Lord to refine us by fire? I know for me, the honest answer is, “Never!” However, I make it a point to pray for the Lord’s blessings on me, my family, my marriage, my children and grandchildren, etc. I must sound like a child to Him…always “gimmie, gimmie, gimmie,” and never “teach me, test me, refine me.”
I must remember that in order to reach the blessings I’m going to have to walk through the fire.
“Precious Father, you are such an awesome God and Father to us! Your mercies are new for us each day, and your blessings abound over us in ways we can not fathom. We are a wicked and sinful generation, and yet, you still love us; praise your holy name! And dear Lord, I ask that you will work in my life like a refiners fire. That you will mold me and test me so that I may be found worthy to receive your many blessings upon my life. Help me to remember that you give me the strength to endure such testing, and to be mindful that you will be right beside me the entire time; keeping a careful eye on me so I won’t be consumed by the flames. Thank you so much for sending Jesus to be my Lord and Savior; it’s in his precious and powerful name I pray, amen.”