Sometimes, events in our life can get extremely hot.
Trials. Testing. Turmoil. Tribulation. Temptation.
Each of these terms brings up a negative connotation in our mind.
There is nothing pleasant about going through tribulation, or turmoil, or a testing. It hurts and it is sometimes scary.
It can get hot.
I have been in a factory where metal was melted and poured into molds. And even though we wore protective clothing that resisted catching fire, it was extremely hot.
Down in the engine room of our ship when we were crossing the equator, 140 degrees was the working temperature for the crew in that space.
If you have ever spent a summer in Phoenix, AZ, you know what hot can feel like, even though it is not even close to the engine room or the smelting furnace for heat.
Our scripture lesson for this morning speaks to this in a subtle way.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
The word “temptation” usually brings up in our mind the idea of being tempted to sin. The word is certainly used in that sense, but only occasionally.
Its main thought is—
an experiment, attempt, trial, proving
It is often used in the sense of adversity, affliction, trouble: sent by God and serving to test or prove one’s character, faith, holiness.
Do you recall the story of Job and how the devil said if he could attack Job, he would turn from God?
God gave the okay knowing that the test would only strengthen Job in his devotion.
If you don’t get anything else this morning, I want you to get that. The trials that come your way are not meant to prove how weak you are. They come to show how strong you are.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
We should not be surprised that trials and tribulations come our way. They are a part of the human experience of living on planet earth. In John 16:33 Jesus said that in the world we would have tribulation.
There is no getting around it—bad things happen to good people. In fact, bad things happen to EVERYONE. No one gets out of here without turmoil and trouble, and no one gets out of here alive.
When that fact is truly grasped as it says in our verse from the scripture lesson—no temptation has taken you but such as is common to us all—it will take away a major part of the “why me?” syndrome.
It is hard for us not to focus on our particular situation in the moment, but when we do, we often lose perspective. We begin to think that we have been singled out for some rotten purpose.
Many people spend years blaming the devil for every negative thing that comes their way.
Not every negative thing that comes our way is the devil’s fault. Neither is it our fault, though sometimes that is the case.
The fact that it is common should show us that stuff happens. A lot of stuff happens without rhyme or reason.
However, we are not left out in the cold in these times.
The Bible gives us clues as to how God can use these things in our life for our good.
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
This is a difficult concept for us to wrap our mind around. We say that God is good, because He is. We say that God is love, because He is.
If that is true, then how can you say that these bad things come from a good God?
We have heard people say, and maybe we have said it ourselves—
“Why did God do that to me?”
My only answer is, “I don’t know.” I don’t know that God did it to you. I don’t know if you brought it on yourself. I don’t know if someone may be out to get you. I don’t know why it happened.
The point is—what will you do with it.
How do you look at this event or circumstances?
Can you change it? Can you fix it? Can you accept it.
Anything is better than trying to fix blame on someone or something.
Placing blame has yet to solve a problem even when true.
In fact, playing the blame game only serves to keep us in the vicious cycle of recurring negativity. Blaming is a part of a negative mindset.
Negativity seldom helps us to arrive at a viable solution to a problem.
Blaming and resisting usually only results in more emotional suffering.
I believe that we suffer emotionally in direct proportion to our resistance to accept what is.
Therefore, we can take this verse about discipline, and learn from it. We can take the first verse about the commonality of suffering and learn from it.
The story of Job and his suffering, which is probably far beyond anything we have endured, gives us a lesson in patient endurance.
His most telling statement is a retort to his wife when she was urging him to just curse God and die.
But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”
In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
Could it be that part of our problem is that we blame God for the negative, but seldom give Him the credit for the good?
Another thing that would help us to understand and accept the negative events and situations in our life is to recognize the purpose for their appearance.
Notice I said purpose—not why they showed up or who to blame—their purpose.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
The testing, trials, turmoil, tribulations that come into your life ultimately test your faith. That was Job’s situation.
The testing is not to prove how weak you are, but how strong you are—how much you have grown.
When your faith is tested and you come through the trial, you are stronger for it. Your patience—which is here called steadfastness—is strengthened.
Or, consider this one from Paul—
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings,
knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
Both James and Paul tell us to get happy in the midst of that which would ordinarily make us sad.
Paul adds to the patience aspect by saying that patience produces character, and that character produces hope.
Hope is an anchor for the soul as we see in Heb. 6:19
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,
An anchor is what is used to keep a boat secure in its place. The hope that suffering eventually produces becomes an anchor that keeps you firmly fixed in the Lord.
I titled this message
TRIED BY FIRE.
I want to close with an illustration that I have shared with you before.
But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.
He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.
In those days, the refiner sat by the fire with the pot for melting the metal over the fire. The metal would mest and the dross would rise to the surface. Then the refiner would skim the dross off the top.
He would then get the fire even hotter and repeat the process as more dross would rise and be skimmed from the surface of the metal.
This was repeated until there was no longer any dross left—nothing but pure silver or gold.
The refiner knew it was pure when he could see his reflection in the molten metal.
God is the refiner who is taking the dross out of your life so that He can see His reflection in you.
One last verse.
for our God is a consuming fire.
That is the closing line to the chapter in Hebrews we looked at about discipline, with its trials and tribulations.
Most people tend to view this consuming fire aspect of God as something to be feared, but it shouldn’t be.
It should be viewed as an aspect of God’s love, because He consumes everything that doesn’t belong, leaving only that which is like Him.
He is restoring the creation to its original design. He is restoring you to your original design of being created in the image of God.
May you be blessed as you consider the work of the Lord in the troubles in your life.