When I first separated from my husband, I was angry with God. I couldn’t even open my Bible or pray. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue walking with Him. After all, following Him hadn’t worked out so well for me. When I finally recovered enough to open my Bible, I somehow landed in the book of Job. I’ve read Job many times, but as I read the first chapter this time it was different.
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil.”
Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Haven’t You placed a hedge around him, his household, and everything He owns? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out Your hand and strike everything he owns, and he will surely curse You to Your face.”
“Very well,” the Lord told Satan, “everything he owns is in your power….” (Job 1:8-12).
As I read these words, it was as if my name had replaced Job’s. I had this strange sense that God had actually chosen me to go through these trials. Like Job, my life had been blessed. I had never truly encountered a difficulty. I had no reason to NOT praise God.
Please understand that I am not saying that I am a woman of perfect integrity, one in any way equal to Job, but I believe that my heart has been fully God’s for many years—even if I haven’t always walked in perfect obedience. Whether this conversation truly took place in heaven over me doesn’t matter. God impressed on my heart that He Himself—the Almighty God of the universe—had hand-picked me to go through this trial.
But why? I believe with all my heart that faith is not faith until it has been tested. I had walked with God all my life. I had seen His faithfulness in so many ways. I had taught His word to many people. But now I was putting His word to the test. Truthfully, He has been so much more than I could have ever expected during these three years! He has been my Jehovah Jireh—my Provider—when I didn’t know how I would feed my children. He has been my comforter when I was mourning the loss of everything I valued. He has been my friend when I was lonely. He is the One that pursued me relentlessly when I felt unlovely and unlovable. He has been my healer when I thought the hurt would never end. He has been the perfect Father to my fatherless children. He is THE GREAT I AM—He is whatever I need at the exact time I am in need!
The Bible tells us to count it all joy when we face trials of many kinds because the testing of our faith develops perseverance and perseverance must finish its work so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-3). Until now, my faith had never truly been tested. The depth of my faith is so much deeper today than it was a few short years ago. Today, I can communicate my faith to people who I would never have been able to reach before because I can relate to them. I am more compassionate and far less judgmental. My faith is truly mine!
While I was going through the early days, I learned to cope by running and listening to sermons and praise music. I learned to focus my mind on heavenly things. Pastor Craig Groeschel preached a sermon series on Elijah, and I can’t even count the number of times I listened to that series during those difficult days. He made the statement that God was doing a work in Elijah so that He could do a work through Elijah. I don’t know exactly what work God has for me, but I know that He has a special ministry that could only be accomplished by having my faith tested.
Recently, I read through the book of Job again. This time, it wasn’t the first chapter that jumped out at me—but it was the last chapter.
In Job 42:5, Job says to God, “I had heard rumors about you, but now my eyes have seen You.” That is exactly how I feel! For years I had taught the goodness of God, but now I have experienced it! For years I had taught that God would see others through times of despair, but now I have lived it. For years I have taught that He is the Great I AM, but now I know Him personally and deeply. As I read those words, my eyes filled with tears as I recounted in my mind how much different my relationship is with Him today.
As I continued reading, I came across verse 12, “So the Lord blessed the last part of Job’s life more than the first.” Again, it was if God was speaking directly to me! He has promised me that He has plans to prosper and not to harm me (Jeremiah 29:11). He has promised that He is doing a new work (Isaiah 43:18-19). He has promised to repay the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25). And now, He has clearly said to me that the last part of my life will be more blessed than the first! Who can’t get excited about that? Sure, I am impatient sometimes as I wait for His plans to unfold, but I cling to the unwavering knowledge that He has amazing things in store for me. And, His faithfulness has been proven in my life, so I know I can trust Him.
What about you? Has your faith been tested? Have you been able to stand with God, to trust Him through the fire? I promise He will see you through. He might leave you in the fire until you think you won’t survive, but He won’t allow you to burn up.
Have you ever heard the story of the silversmith?
Some time ago, a few ladies met to study the scriptures. While reading the third chapter of Malachi, they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse:
“And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver” (Malachi 3:3).
One lady decided to visit a silversmith, and report to the others on what he said about the subject.
She went accordingly, and without telling him the reason for her visit, begged the silversmith to tell her about the process of refining silver. After he had fully described it to her, she asked, “Sir, do you sit while the work of refining is going on?”
“Oh, yes ma’am,” replied the silversmith; “I must sit and watch the furnace constantly, for, if the time necessary for refining is exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured.”
The lady at once saw the beauty and comfort of the expression, “He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”
God sees it necessary to put His children into the furnace; but His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for us. Our trials do not come at random, and He will not let us be tested beyond what we can endure.
Before she left, the lady asked one final question, “How do you know when the process is complete?”
“That’s quite simple,” replied the silversmith. “When I can see my own image in the silver, the refining process is finished.”
If you are in the fire, trust Him to leave you until the impurities are burned away and He sees His reflection in you.