Suffering and hardship. We do not normally get excited about suffering and hardship, but it’s one of the few things that we are promised and guaranteed to face in our short time here before eternity. So here’s a tough question: if God is good and He has promised that we will face suffering when we serve Him, can suffering be a good thing?
We have heard how silver and gold are purified by the smelters fire, how the impurities and unrefined bits within the raw chunks of precious metal rise to the surface. We are a lot like that too. The trials of life come at us and turn up the heat, and we begin to suffer. In those times of stress, we learn a lot about our character; in those times of stress, we learn a lot about our need for faith in a God so much more perfect and wonderful than we are.
When we are living unrighteously, the trials of suffering still remain goodness and a gift to us. They bring us to the end of ourselves, and in proper order, to our knees if we do not harden our hearts. They show us the utter bankruptcy of our own strength, the foolishness of our attempts at wisdom, and our complete lack of control. Thus, we cannot be trusted; only God can. It is better to suffer for our unrighteousness in this life and cast ourselves upon God than it is to face Him in the next with no excuse. In this way, suffering is a great divine kindness that wakes us up.
When we live righteously with God, those fires of trials allow God’s character to shine in us and be worked deeper into our souls. When we lean in to the suffering with our faith in God’s faithfulness, He proves Himself to us over and over again. Those around us cannot help but notice how great our God is in the midst of our afflictions.
The tool a jeweler uses to refine precious metals is called a crucible. This word comes from latin, and the first part of it comes from the root word “crux-,” which means cross. We are refined, others are inspired or convicted, and God gets the glory. This is suffering in good order. What a treasure! Take up your cross. Gold shines brightest and has the most value when all the dross has been taken away; that’s when it reflects the image of its Purifier the most.
Psalm 12:6 – And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times.
Proverbs 17:3 – The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.
Zechariah 13:9 – And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’”