Have you ever felt like a failure? Have you ever taken a step back, looked at your life, and seen disappointment? It can be easy to feel defeated. We look around at the world and begin to compare ourselves. To the point that, if we are the only one of our friends who is not married yet, has not received that promotion, has a child not potty trained, or is not prepared for retirement, we begin to label ourselves as unsuccessful. Maybe the five year, ten year, or twenty year plan has not come to pass. Where does that leave you and me?
In a perfect place for God to refine us. God uses what we see as the brokenness of our lives to cultivate in us a heart that longs for Him. Isaiah 48:10 says, “Look, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” The context of this Scripture is amazing. God is addressing Israel. Think of what comes to mind when you read the word Israel. They were the loved, but rebellious people of God (vs. 8). In verse four of the same chapter they are described as stubborn. They are a people who put their trust in idols (vs. 5) and have their ears closed to the Lord (vs. 8). Think of the trials Israel went through; being in the wilderness forty years because they would not listen to the Lord. Yet, He never abandoned them. He used that time to bring about a change within them as a people while He provided for their every need through manna from Heaven (Exodus 16:4-5), quail (Exodus 16:13), and water from rocks (Exodus 17:5-7). God says, “I will delay My anger for the honor of My name, and I will restrain Myself for your benefit and for My praise, so that you will not be destroyed.” (vs.9) God is working all things for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). He wants to make His strength known in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Whatever “affliction” we may currently be enduring whether it is great or small, God is working to refine who we are as a person. He is calling us to Himself. He is using our lives, all of our lives, to bring glory and honor to Him.
Dr. David Platt recently said, “The purity of our lives is more important than our ministries (Matthew 4:1-17).” It is also more important than what we consider to be our level of personal success in life. It is that personal purity that God is refining within us through the circumstances of our lives. We are all on a journey. We are at different places and are in different seasons in life, but wherever we are, God is seeking to use that stage of life as a time of teaching. “This is what the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to My commands. Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.'” (vs. 17-18) God is telling Israel, and us, that it is vitally important to our relationship with Him and to our personal peace and purity to listen to and obey what He says. He loves us and seeks our good. While the journey is difficult, rejoice! Take joy in the good and bad of your life at this moment right now because God is speaking to you through it. He is teaching you and me right now, if only we will listen and obey.
May you be encouraged and blessed. I count it an honor to share a part of my journey with you. May the Lord refine us through our broken lives, and may we listen to His teaching so that we can be found righteous in His sight.