Refined in the Fire: 3 Reasons God Does His Best Work when Life is Hardest
July 19, 2023 | Cortney Whiting
4-6 Minute Read Time
As a chaplain, I have witnessed my fair share of life’s hardest moments. Working in a hospital and hospice setting, I see God work in and through trauma, crisis, and end of life. People often tell me that they could never do my job or question how I can do what I do on a daily basis. Yet, I love my job and look forward to each day. The reason for this is because each day, I am able to watch God comfort, restore, provide, and redeem his children. Yet, struggles come in many forms and take place anywhere. We see it in our families with our children and our marriages. We see it in addictions in ourselves and loved ones. We see it in financial obligations. The daily battles are the hardships that allow God to work His best in us when we allow Him. It is in the darkest of times when God’s light shines brightest. We see this throughout Scripture and we continue to see it today.
Hard Times Remind You of God’s Presence
When they come upon hard times, people often make the wrong assumption that God has abandoned them. We might not feel His presence or choose to ignore His proximity. Psalm 9:9-10 states, “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” These verses remind us that not only God is present in trouble, but He is a person of refuge. Those who understand the character of the Lord place their confidence in Him. David, the writer of many of the psalms was no stranger to hardship. Throughout his life, he experienced battles, betrayals, sins of adultery and murder, power usurpation, etc. Yet, in all his trials, David recognized God’s presence and relied on Him to endure. By David’s example, we see that trials allow us to seek out God’s shelter.
In a poem entitled “The Thorn'' by Martha Nicholson ends with the line, “I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace, He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides his face.” The line of this poem illustrates how difficulties help show us more of who God is.
Hard Times Prove God’s Promises
Life’s most unexpected and hardest times often remind us and show us the faithfulness of God and His promises. In Isaiah 40:31, the prophet speaks encouragement to a nation who was discouraged and broken. He reminded them that if they waited on the Lord, He would renew their strength. This promise was fulfilled for the nation of Israel and continues to apply to believers today. Sometimes the waiting makes us anxious, but we must continue to believe His promises in the waiting, for God is faithful.
We see God’s faithfulness throughout Scripture. He made a great nation from a barren and elderly couple. He rescued an enslaved nation. He brought salvation to the entire world through one Son. None of these promises were fulfilled quickly. They were all accomplished in the Father’s perfect timing.
Hard Times Show God’s Provision
When we go through difficulties, we see the best of God’s provision. When we are at our weakest, we are the most willing to see and receive His kindness. The story of Elijah and the woman at Zarephath beautifully illustrates this concept. In 1 Kings 17:7-16, Elijah meets a widow in a town suffering from a drought and asks her for water and bread. The woman responded that the last she had was planned as a last meal for her son and herself. The prophet challenged her to instead set aside some for him. When she did, God continually provided flour and oil for the woman and her family.
Through this story, we see the woman’s desperation and how her act of faith showcases God’s provision.
The challenge for believers is to trust God, regardless of the outcome. The lives of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego illustrate complete faith in God. These young men refused to bow down and worship the god of Babylon. In verse 17, they recognized that God was able to save them from the fiery furnace but declared that even if He did not, they would not serve or worship other gods. When the men were thrown in the fiery furnace, not only were they spared from burning, but there was another in the fire with them.
So, what do we do when we are in the midst of a life crisis?
- Continue to approach God with thanksgiving. Philippians 4:6 reminds us, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
- Remind yourself of God’s promises. Here is a list of some of God’s promises found in Scripture. https://www.ourgodiswithus.com/60-phenomenal-gods-promises-in-the-bible/
- Remember that God has not finished His work when we are in the middle of a crisis. While we do not know the outcome, we do know the God who is in charge.
As I take time to reflect over some of my greatest life challenges, I realize that God used those times to draw me closer to Himself. Sometimes, the depths of my despair felt so overwhelming, I felt I was going to drown. But, it was in those moments, I felt God’s quiet voice whisper, “Follow me.” Somehow, some way, by His grace, I was able to take the next step forward. The waves began to calm; my foundation solidified. I compare those moments to the disciples running to Jesus while he was asleep on the boat during the storm. These fishermen in their fear lost their sea legs. So they instinctively turned to their Savior for peace. They had not traveled with him long and they did not know his full identity, but they trusted Him enough to turn to Him to quiet the storm. Sometimes our weakness and fear in life leads us to a better understanding of the gentleness and greatness of God. It is one of life’s mysteries we must choose to embrace if we want God to do His best work in us.
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