There are many verses about God testing us and allowing us to go through trials. Obviously in some cases, trials are of our own making, through poor decisions or sins. But in many other cases, they seem to come out of nowhere, and it’s normal for us to wonder why, and what God’s intention is in allowing the trials. Is it because He’s angry and wants to punish us? Of course not. God’s ultimate purpose is to make us into strong, useful instruments (James 1:2-3, I Pet. 1:6-7). He has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the strong and wise, and so that those chosen don’t think it’s because of their own amazing capabilities (I Cor. 9:27-28). But just because he selects us when we’re weak doesn’t mean we’re meant to stay that way. Myriad verses make it clear that God is tearing us down and remaking us in His image (Rom. 12:2, Eph. 4:24).
A while back I read an article from a modern-day blacksmith talking about his craft, and for whatever reason, on that particular day the biblical analogies just jumped off the page at me and I had to dig further.
The first thing the blacksmith does is take a piece of metal and heat it in the fire until it’s almost translucent. Or he might melt the metal down entirely to pour into a mold. Both of these processes make the metal workable, but also illuminate the metal’s impurities or deficiencies. Fire is a refining element and used in the bible as an analogy for trials as well. There are many verses that use the analogy of melting down metal in a furnace to remove impurities:
Heat is also an agent of change, making things malleable so they can be worked with. It might be to stretch it, to transform its shape, or to melt it down completely to start from scratch. And that brings us to the next part of the blacksmithing process.
Once the blacksmith has heated the metal enough so that it is malleable, he hammers on it to create the shape he is looking for. This is not a split-second process. He heats, hammers, and shapes. Heats, hammers, and shapes. Over time, the metal begins to reflect the shape that the blacksmith desires. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Heb. 12:11)
As I mentioned in the introduction, anger or vindictiveness isn’t the motivation behind trials and challenges. The article I referenced at the outset has the blacksmith talking about how many people assume it feels really good to pound out your frustrations on the metal. His response is really interesting. “Hitting hard is part of the equation, but hitting accurately is more important. If a blacksmith is frustrated, he oughta go punch a bag until he gets over it, then go work at the anvil…It’s not so much strength but control.” This part of the analogy rings very true as well. God doesn’t strike out in uncontrolled anger. That’s not why we go through trials. Instead, He very patiently and deliberately shapes us, with measured force based on the final shape He desires.Look forward to the rest of this article in next week’s blog post.
Think and Pray
C.S. Lewis once said that God uses pain as a megaphone. How have you seen God use hardships in life to get your attention on Him?
Father, thank You for the trials you have brought me through, and for Your promise to use them for my ultimate good. Help me to be teachable in this process, and give me joy even in the trial, knowing that You are at work in my life. Amen.