1 Peter 4:12
"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange things were happening to you."
About five years ago I went through that fiery ordeal. In fact, as I look back, that fiery ordeal seemed to be an understatement. I had thought, at that time, the fire was so intense, there was just no way to forge through it.
In less than a month, I had lost my job, I was over 50 (which meant the pickin's were slim), my son was diagnosed with a disorder (that required money for testing), I came down with a chronic illness (and I didn't have insurance), and my car began to fall apart (which made it difficult to get to interviews.
To top it off, my illness prohibited me from getting out of bed for too long and walking any length of distance. I was on unemployment, tinkered with the idea of SSI (but knew that could take up to two years for approval). "Why me?" I asked God quite often. "How am I going to press onward when I have not one opportunity at my feet?" I don't even think that word "scared" sheds a fraction of light on what I was feeling. I had kids. I had a home. There was no one else to turn to. "How will I survive?" I thought. "Unemployment will end in four months, and I'm too sick to work!"
When adversity comes to your door it doesn't knock. It just barges right in, plops down on your living room floor and begins to wreck havoc in your life. The scripture says, "Don't be amazed at the fiery ordeal that's taking place to test your quality, as thought something strange were happening." God is placing you in line to test your character and refine you.
At some point a year into my ordeal I met with an amazing God-fearing Christian woman. I liked her immediately. I had met her at the CBE (facility to help the unemployed) on one of my downer days. She brought me into her office and sensed my disconnect from the world. We began to speak in length about my trials and tribulations of the past year. She listened intently and looked straight into my eyes, and spoke softly, "Child, God is putting you through the fire. When you come out you're going to be like gold this time." I totally "got" what she was saying. I knew I would be stronger, but I just couldn't put my finger on when.
She explained if God didn't put us through adversity you wouldn't be prepared adequately for what he has in store for you. Sometimes great lessons are learned through the worst circumstances.
There maybe be a reason God is causing us to grow. We can't see into the future, but I can promise you these lessons will be remembered at a later time.
Sometimes God uses other people to put us through the refining fire. You may be thinking, "But I can't stand the way my boss reacts when I say certain things I feel improve the company. God, can you please make him change?" Well, maybe God doesn't want him to change, maybe it is you who is on his list. God is not going to change anyone you are dealing with until he changes you.
A year spent in havoc was all it took on my part. Yes, it seemed a bit long, but all my needs were met along the way. I know the route would have been easier if I just let God take the steering wheel the whole way. But, as you know, being human gets in the way some days. I now have a job I love going to work. I didn't always feel that way. Most importantly, great lessons were taught that year that help me prepare for my present position.
This Week's Meditation:
God, please give me the strength and courage to make these changes in my life.
Meditate on this for several minutes a day. Allow various thoughts to come into your mind. If you are especially upset state:
I know you will work it for my good. It is stretching me, but I know I'm growing. I'm going to come out of this stronger, happier, healthier, and better off than I was previously.
Remind yourself of healing each moment. God has you in his arms always.