10 For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. 11 You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. 12 You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance. (Psalm 66:10-12 NIV)
I oftentimes fail to recognize God’s hand at work in the hardships of my life when I am in the crucible and the heat is hot. In my trials my natural response is to wonder where God is or if He cares, but I fail to ask how He is using trials and troubles to mold me into the man He wants me to be.
In reading Psalm 66 this morning I have been shown once again that my “natural” response is in error, it is far from the truth of what God’s Word teaches. The Psalmist wrote, “You refined us like silver.” The beauty of silver emerges only after the impurities are extracted, and this is done by applying heat. The impurities of the silver have to rise to the surface before they can be removed so that the beauty and purity of the silver can shine. Once again, this is only made possible by applying heat, intense heat. The impurities of my own life can lay hidden, stored away beneath the surface of my life and covered by pious language and a thin veneer of Christlikeness. When hardships come my way the heat causes those hidden impurities to emerge. The heat exposes the impurities of my own heart and mind like nothing else. Ungodly thinking and selfish desires rise like dross when the heat of hardships are experienced.
The Psalmist writes, “You brought us to prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads.” God both “caused” and “allowed” the hardships that the Psalmist experienced in his own life. This isn’t an isolated example of God either “causing” or “allowing” trials and trouble in the lives of those He loves. Moses told the freed slaves heading to the Promised Land, 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. (Deuteronomy 8:2 NIV) Through the wilderness testing the true contents of the hearts of God’s people were exposed. It wasn’t a pretty picture. What is exposed in my own heart as I go through hardships and trials is not pretty either, but oh is this painful process necessary if I desire to become the man God desires for me to be.
The Psalmist concludes his thoughts on the hardships he has experienced by saying, “…but You brought us to a place of abundance.” “You refined us…” “You brought us into prison…” “You let men ride over our heads…” “You brought us to a place of abundance.” I see a pattern. I recognize the process. God is “causing” and “allowing” the heat to be turned up in my life because He is leading me somewhere–to a place of abundance. If I will keep this in mind then I can see the “trials” of life as a “trail” to the abundance God desires for me. Every trial I encounter in life is another step on the trail to God’s abundance.
My prayer today, Lord, is that You would enable me to see the trials of life as a trail to the abundance You have planned for me.