Our church has been going through a number of trials. As we do, the Lord is growing our family and teaching us so much about grace, forgiveness, commitment, and relationship. How amazing is the way our God takes the challenging charcoal of life to refine us into the polished diamonds He desires us to be. Why then be anything but thankful for the charcoal?
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
Those within our small congregation, seeing the trials we jointly face, have been sharing that we see God at work. Because we see God at work, we are encouraged about the refining process we are in. He is pushing us to draw near to Him, to listen to the Spirit, and to grow into a closer family. Though I am tempted to be disheartened, I am instead uplifted by the communication taking place among our members that could only be inspired by the Spirit Himself.
What the spiritual enemy of God would use to discourage us and undermine God’s work in and through us, the Spirit of God is using in us to bring about quite different results. We are seeing the fruit of the Spirit grow, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, while our natural inclination would be to be angry, depressed, distressed, anxious, mean-spirited, ineffectual, disloyal, ill-tempered, and rebellious. Praise God for His intervention.
I feel like I am in Whoville, and as the Grinch tries to steal Christmas, we, the body of Christ, the children of God, are steeling ourselves in the Spirit. Going through this process with God at our helm, we can see our struggles for what they are, opportunities to trust and lean on the Lord individually and as a unified family, loving one another and the mission God as called us to collectively. We can rejoice in the midst of trial.
Life has its challenges, its charcoal moments. Even in these, though, we can delight if we will truly submit to the Holy Spirit and see the big picture of His work in the small circumstances. He is purifying us, creating a beautiful diamond, and He intends to bless us and perfect us as we trust Him.