You have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” (Hebrews 12:5-6)
In the very same way, Peter encourages us:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12-13 ESV)
Far too often Christians perceive adversity from the Almighty as a sign of His displeasure, not His loving, fatherly discipline. Whatever “fire” you might be facing today, know this: God loves you and is using that trial to conform you into the image and likeness of His beloved Son. God is forging us in the fire of affliction, and He will not stop short of finishing what He started. Yes, as Paul said, we can be “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
Notice that in the Hebrews passage above that there are two opposite odious responses to the Almighty’s fiery furnace of affliction. The first is to “make light of it.” At first glance that idea might seem a bit strange; who in their right mind makes light of affliction? Well, we can do this in two ways:
1. We miss seeing God’s hand in every storm we are facing.
2. We miss seeing the value in every storm, because we think of them as something simply to be endured.
Scripture tells us that nothing happens in our lives that does not first pass through our Lord’s nail-scarred-hands. There is no such thing as “karma” and there is no “bad luck.” There is no such thing as “luck,” period! “For from him and through him and to him are all things,” Scripture assures. “To him be the glory forever! Amen” (Romans 11:36). We are most definitely not, as Tom Hanks said in Forrest Gump, “floating around accidental-like on a breeze.” Jesus told us that not a bird falls to the ground apart from the will of the Father (Matthew 10:29). Therefore, even in the midst of the most fiery trials, we can and must trust our Master’s assurance that it is all working toward our ultimate good (Romans 8:28).
The second odious response to being forged in the fire of Omnipotence is to “lose heart.” We lose heart when we believe that God is disciplining us out of punitive anger rather than profound love. And the difference between these two motives makes all the difference in the world! If God was simply exacting His “pound of flesh” from you, all you would want to do is simply endure the storm and try to get through it as quickly as possible. But if you understand that your storm has been delivered to you from a God who loved you enough to die for you, then you won’t shrink back from the storm. Rather, you will be strengthened by it . . . which is exactly God’s purpose in sending it!
Remember, every pain has a divine purpose, which ultimately leads to the completion of what God started in you: conformity to the likeness of Christ!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!