For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
I imagine that we all know what it is like to go through a season where things are especially hard. You may feel like that has been the last 15 years of your life. As it wears on and you still miss your mom, or the rain just keeps coming, or the heat continues to be awful, or your baby continues to be teething, or you continue to not go into labor, or your house continues to not be remodeled, or you continue to struggle with patience, or your old friends continue to avoid you, or your health continues to be a problem. Sometimes the problem is the weight of blessings – the fact that having a bunch of little children is simply not easy, although you once thought it would be.
One of our temptations in times like this is to start leaning away from the hardship. We want to not think about it, not look at it, not talk about it – just hold our breath and hope that the wave of tired will roll over us eventually and then we will breathe again. We want to start praying things like, “Lord make this day easy. Let the baby be more mellow today. Make my friends like me again. Take this away.” While there is certainly nothing wrong with asking God to remove trials from your life, something occurred to me the other day about this, and I realized that I needed to look at it differently.
If you went to a personal trainer and asked them to get you into the best shape of your life, you would expect that there would be some pain. But if you are really serious about it and committed to the result, you lean into that pain. You do not show up on day two saying, “I’m thinking today we should just eat quiche instead. This was all a very bad idea!”
So this is what struck me the other day. I do not want to be praying that God would make everything easy. I want to be praying that God will make me strong. I know that He has a plan. I know that He has the grace we need to finish the hard things in a way that honors Him. The problem is that often we are comfortable in our spiritually soft bodies. We would like to sit around in our bad attitude sweatpants eating the Cheetos of selfishness. But God is calling us to more, and sometimes that call brings us to our knees to ask Him to be quiet.
So here is the challenge – let’s pray that God would pour out His grace and energy on us, that He would equip us for the day that will be hard. That He will continue to push us and that we will continue to come to Him, not asking Him to stop, but asking Him for the grace to finish. We want to lean into the refining fire – because we want for all the dross to be burned out. Lean into the fire of God. Trust His purpose for you.
We want to be bought into the vision that God has for us. We want to look at our teething babies and our disobedient toddlers and our messy house and say, “Thank you God – I feel it burning, I know it is working. “