For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. —Psalm 66:10
I found myself reflecting this week on how relatively pain-free the Lord has kept my life. This is especially true with regard to my physical surroundings. I have felt very little of the suffering I see all around me in the world. I have not experienced disability, chronic pain, life-threatening experiences, the loss of spouse or children, or financial crisis. My greatest sufferings have always been internal. Outwardly, the Lord continues to grant me the blessings of provision and protection far greater than even I realize. Yet at the same time, He is constantly purifying my heart and mind with the intense heat of a refiner’s fire: outward blessings and inward burnings!
I would speculate that the same is true of many of us. We journey through this world with a certain degree of outward comfort. It is nothing to feel guilty about, nor is it to be a source of pride. There is no shame in the blessings God grants to His children; there is no pride to be found in God’s blessings because they flow from grace not merit. The Lord often uses blessings in my life to expose those sinful desires of my heart that need to be purified. Sometimes my greatest blessings become my greatest sources of sanctification.
I have observed with others that the sanctifying fire upon their hearts and minds will often come through outward difficulties and sufferings. Their journey is marked by seasons of pain, tragedy, or disappointment. Maybe you would find yourself is this second group. The blessings of God are not apparent to those outside observers, but you know the reality of His goodness in the midst of the fire.
It is not my purpose here to fully explain or even understand all of this, but merely to acknowledge the goodness of both. God is wise and good in bringing about our ultimate salvation. He knows precisely when and where to bless us and when and where to burn us. There is a burning that comes with each blessing, and there are blessings that come with each burning. May both His blessings and His burnings work in us to conform us more into the image of Christ.
I am learning to enjoy both the warmth and the heat of the Sun.