“We often pray to be delivered from calamities; we even trust that we shall be; but we do not pray to be made what we should be, in the very presence of the calamities, to live amid them, as long as they last, in the consciousness that we are held and sheltered by the Lord and can therefore remain in the midst of them, so long as they continue without any hurt.” – STREAMS IN THE DESERT.
I’ve quoted from this book many times, and this passage really caused me to pause. So, am I supposed to be OK with all the calamities so long as I’m not being physically hurt or injured? Instead of praying the calamity leaves, we should pray that whatever there is to gain from the calamity is gained, and that the trial isn’t wasted. Easier said than done, right?
When we invite Christ into the middle of our calamity (no matter what it is) we are able to dwell in the presence of the enemy because we dwell in the presence of God. Let that sink in. Psalm 23:5 specifically states this is the case. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”
When I had my brain surgery, that was a personal calamity, when I had my double mastectomy, that was even more painful. Of course I prayed that I didn’t have to be in pain, but the pain was temporary, I survived and gained so much more as a result.
For me, the more difficult calamity was (and continues to be) Reagan’s crisis six and a half years ago. You might think since that was several years ago the pain and the trauma and the memories of that would subside, but there has never been a more defining moment, other than accepting Jesus, than living through April 2014, heck all of 2014. (For me, 2020 has nothing on 2014). That part of our story is a line of demarcation; there’s life before Reagan’s metabolic crisis and life after, and they are markedly very different.
As a writer, everything is viewed from the lens of what I’ve learned as a result of Reagan’s crisis and the things I’ve learned have ushered me through each subsequent life blow. I know that God will never leave or forsake us, even if it felt like he did in 2014 as we watched Reagan’s brain damage unfold right in front of us. He did not leave us, and that was not a forsaking moment. God will certainly allow trials and pain to permeate our lives and we should pray for strength through them in order to come out on the other side polished, new and beautiful, like a piece of shiny gold jewelry.
Gold is expensive, the material is costly and it must be heated, refined and molded into something worthy of wearing. I found this short YouTube video of a guy making a gold band from a tiny bar of gold and every time he put it in fire or a bending, shaping, rolling machine, I could relate to the pain of that tiny piece of gold. I have personally felt bent and under extreme pressure, maybe you have too.
Just like a piece of jewelry is viewed as beautiful and accentuating to an individual, so is character, honor, perseverance, kindness, boldness, faith and love. These are traits also worthy of being worn on us, and I think we would all like to be described as possessing these traits.
How do we get these highly sought after traits? By truly understanding one of the most quoted Psalms – Psalm 23. Will you allow God to set a table for you in the presence of ____ (enemies, trial, calamity, divorce, loss)? Fill in the blank. Live amid your trial and ask God to impart the knowledge he wants to give you, don’t fight it. Allow the refinement God is trying to do inside of you, so that these highly desired character traits will appear on the outside as a result. Will it be painful? Probably, but no one is wearing an unfinished small gold bar pinned to their jacket. No, we want the refined and finished outcome.
I think if we’re honest, we’ve all had a lot of opportunity in 2020 to live within our personal trials and allow God to do some refining inside of us.
We must allow ourselves, resign ourselves to sit in the fire of whatever life circumstance that we are presented with. We must let the fire melt away the impurities to bring to the surface what will last, what cannot be melted away through trials – which is Jesus in us. He endures forever. And that eternal life is what he wants to give and impart to every human soul.
Suffering and beauty go hand in hand, and we must accept one to fully receive the other. Did Jesus have to go through fire to prove that what he offers cannot be taken away? That the eternal life he offers endures forever? Literally, yes. It’s a gift that we didn’t have to purchase, but also that we don’t deserve.
2 Corinthians 1:2-5 provided me with a lot of comfort in regards to this topic and I hope it gives you renewed perspective, understanding and hope amidst any crisis you may be facing.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”