Read 1 Peter 1:6-9.How often in the midst of our trials we forget the things we are rejoicing about. The gold in the furnace is not thinking about how shiny and purified it will be when it's pulled out of the fire. It's thinking about how stinking hot it is in that furnace! It burns, hurts, and seems very unfair to have to undergo that kind of treatment.
"In this you greatly rejoice...." NIV
That's where our time alone with the Lord comes in -- refocusing on what's outside the furnace. Looking toward the hope ahead and being thankful for what has been done for me through Jesus Christ so I even have a hope. I just don't know how people without Christ do it. Their furnace is forever. They don't have a hope for an end. No sooner do they overcome one trial than another is thrown at them. No wonder so many live without hope or joy. What do they have to be hopeful or joyful about?
But if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus...if somehow when the flames are leaping high, we can just have presence of mind long enough to look to the hills and see our Lord high and lifted up...we can hang on through the trials. He has been faithful before; He will be faithful again, and again, and again.
Look at 1 Samuel 7:12. Samuel takes a stone and sets it up as a testimony to God's faithfulness. He names the stone Ebenezer which means, "stone of help" and says, "Thus far has the Lord helped us." In those times of suffocating trials that seem to never stop coming, I pray that I will remember to set up my Ebenezer and declare, "Thus far has the Lord helped me. And tomorrow, He will help me again. And the next day. And the next day."
My life will never be perfect. In fact, Jesus promised us that it would be difficult. But I have a hope and a joy that have proven faithful to today and will continue tomorrow because I serve a big God, who does big things, and still loves me.
- Three young men were stuck in a furnace and were not alone. Read the story of the three Hebrew boys in Daniel 3.
- What were the circumstances that caused Samuel to set up a memorial stone? Maybe you need to set up a physical memorial stone to remind you of God's faithfulness.
- Find ways to refocus your heart away from your troubles and back on God several times a day. (I set my phone alarm.) It's amazing how taking our eyes off of the problem and putting them on God changes everything. See Psalm 121:1-2.
- Write a faith list -- how has God been faithful to you to date. What has He already brought you through? Spend time praising Him for those blessings.
- Write a list of how you have been and will be faithful to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you remain faithful.