Recently we went to buy some mugs. The ones we had were chipped and we’d wanted new ones for a while. We chose mugs which we really liked. They were chunky, curved, and we were looking forward to using them.
Paul washed them and I boiled the kettle for a drink. I poured the boiling hot water into the mug over the chosen tea bag and - CRACK - I heard a loud crack. It was the mug - it had cracked around the bottom and boiling hot water was gushing out of the mug. I tried the second mug - I poured the now not quite so boiling water into it and – CRACK - it cracked and the bottom actually fell off: Water everywhere! We tried them all and each one cracked. They hadn’t been tested.
They’d looked so good hanging on the rack in the shop. They’d looked so nice when we’d taken the labels off and washed them, but they hadn’t been tested for the purpose they were designed for. Clearly the glaze was faulty. They hadn’t been tested.
This led us to think about us, and our lives. When the trials come, have we been tested? Do we know that we’ll be able to stand the heat of difficult situations? When those situations come, that’s when we find out what we’re made of and whether we’re ready.
Sometimes the Lord tests us; not to push us to the edge, but so we can see what’s inside. If what’s inside is an impurity, then surely we want it to come into the light, so we can deal with it appropriately, be healed, and restored, and strengthened.
Testing can come in so many different guises and each of us has different weaknesses and issues which need testing.
Where are you God? What is Your plan for my life? Why am I ill, and why am I not getting better? Why are the relationships I’m in so difficult? Why don’t I have a husband/wife/children? Where is Your financial provision? Why am I struggling with this task at work/this relationship/this experience/this absence of love/support/input?
‘See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another’ (Isaiah 48:10-11).
James 1:2-5 says: ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him’.
Trials develop character within us. If we shrink from the tests we lose out on the character. The tests bring us to spiritual maturity – to a place of being complete in the Lord – not complete in ourselves. To a place of being able to persevere because we know the God we trust in and we know that He is able and faithful. Because we know His character is love.
When the tests come, let’s hold on to the Lord and trust Him, so that when the real day comes, we’ll be ready.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I thank You because You love me with an everlasting love. I thank You for Your heart of love which is always for me. Lord help me to be open to You to teach me of Yourself. I am willing for You to show me the areas of my life that need renewing and strengthening so that I can grow as Your disciple. In Your name Jesus, Amen.
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