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Brothers and sisters of Our Daily Devotionals:
I have met some problems and calamities in my life recently. Although I know from theory that they are trials and refinements from God, which are good environments for me, I’m still afraid of them a lot. What should I do to dare to face them?
It is normal that we have this confused and contradictory state. It’s chiefly because we don’t understand the purpose and meaning of God’s work of trials and refinements, and what desired effects should be achieved.
God said: “Go your way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand” (Daniel 12:9-10). “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried” (Zechariah 13:9). It can be seen through God’s words that the purpose of God’s trials and refinements is to change and purify man, so that man can be gained and become the people of God’s kingdom.
Just like our belief in God, when we’ve enjoyed abundant mercy, love and grace from God, we have profuse “faith” and resolve to fulfill God and repay His love. But if one day, trials come, for example, we are persecuted by our unbelieving families, have frustrations at work, problems in life or pains from disease, or are slandered and ejected by others, then we will have misunderstandings and complaints to God. Because we think that, we’ve paid and expended a lot for God but why do we still need to suffer these calamities? Only at this time can we find out that there are so many impurities in our belief in God, such as personal extravagant desires, transactions, extortions and other motivations, and that our viewpoint of belief in God is incorrect. God sees into the depths of mankind’s hearts and He arranges trials and refinements in order to purify our improper motivations and desires. Thus we can stand in the place of a created being and worship God. From this it can be seen that God’s trying and refining us is to perfect our faith, loyalty, love and obedience to Him.
From appearances, trials and refinements bring us pains while the effects of them on us are perfection and purity. The more trials we meet and pains we suffer, the better we can be able to see that the corruption of us runs too deep, that we lack too much, and that our stature is so small. So we will keep praying, get closer to God and dare not leave Him even for a second. Meanwhile, we will feel that we are unable to overcome the many problems we encounter if we go away from God. Then we will always read His words, fellowship about His truth, get close to Him, rely on Him and practice His words often. The more God’s words we practice in this way, the more corrupt dispositions we can change. Hence we’ll get purified unwittingly and live by God’s word, and then get saved. As such, hardship is our best protection which urges us to come closer to God and pray more often. Through these hardships and trials, we can see God’s holy and righteous disposition, and feel His love and earnest intention in saving man. Meanwhile, we can also recognize the corrupt essence and the truth of our disobedient and God-resisting nature. Only by experiencing trials and refinements can our sins be cleansed. So, the way how we experience trials and refinements directly correlates with whether we can be saved by God!
There is an admonition in the Proverbs: “The prosperity of fools shall destroy them” (Proverbs 1:32). It’s true that when we have a leisurely environment and don’t have any troubles, we will have enjoyment of flesh, covet the comforts of it, have no place for God in our hearts, are unrestrainedly dissolute in speaking or doing things, and even offend God and dishonor His name without knowing it. It’s just as what God says: “In comfortable environments, it is easy for people to become depraved—but adverse environments make you pray with greater urgency, and make you dare not leave God. The more easy and dull their lives, the more people feel there is no point in living, and that they’re better off dead. This is how corrupt people’s flesh is; they can only receive benefits if they experience trials” (Practice 8). So they’re all good for us no matter what persecution or adversity, trials or refinements we meet. And this environment can prompt us to pray more often, get closer to God, read His word and seek His will, which lets us know how to rely on God and not go away from Him. Such hardship is a blessing, can only benefit and does no harm to us.
This point can also be seen from the fact of God’s work—People who gain the approval of God are the ones who have experienced trials and refinements, such as Abraham. God told Abraham to offer up his only son Isaac, and he did so willingly, not talking conditions with God or making his own choices, so that he gained God’s approval. As for Job, no matter whether God gave things to or took away from him, blessed or gave him disasters, he still insisted on worshipping God and praising His name. Job didn’t have even a little complaint but followed God’s way: Fear God and shun evil. Finally, he said, “But he knows the way that I take: when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). Furthermore, after Job took the baptism of trials, Satan dared not attack, test and accuse him. Job became free and gained doubled blessings from God. Obviously, God saves us through trials and refinements and this is a way and step of God’s work. Only by accepting and obeying trials and refinements from God can we be changed, purified and gained by God, and enter into His kingdom.
It’s necessary to know that God never places unbearable burden on us. The reason why we are afraid of facing trials and refinements is because we don’t know the way God works. God’s setting up environments is in accordance with our statures and what we lack and need, and He changes and purifies us little by little. He neither constrains anyone to do what is beyond their ability nor employs a “one size fits all” approach. It’s like parents understanding their children most; they never place unbearable burden on their children, neither does God. All trials and refinements we meet are those we can bear and take on. Because God says: “There are many times when the trials God gives to people are a burden. However heavy a burden God gives to you, you should shoulder such a heavy burden, for God understands you, and understands that you are capable of bearing these burdens. God will not give you a burden that exceeds your stature or that exceeds the maximum limit you are able to bear; the burdens He gives to you will not exceed the maximum limit that you can bear—they will certainly be burdens that you are able to bear” (“Only Through Frequent Contemplation of the Truth Can You Have a Way Forward”). “You needn’t fear God doing this, for God cannot possibly make your body covered with sores like when He tried Job and deprive you of everything you have; God won’t do that to you. He will gradually do His work on you in accordance with your stature.” (“Those Who Cannot Live Always Before God Are Unbelievers”). So, it can be seen from this that our worries and fears are superfluous and unnecessary.