Well, we’ve made it to end of our forty-day divine experiment! Has your life changed the way you hoped it would? Are you excited to continue on this road, or are you still a bit discouraged?
In the past when I became disheartened it was usually because my dreams and goals were not the Lord’s dreams and goals for my life. With powerful words, the prophet Isaiah reminds us why Jesus came:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. (Isa. 61:1–3)
God’s plan has never been to make us comfortable, happy, or perfect, although one day we will be all of these things. His highest calling is for us to look like Jesus so we can then show Him to the world. We desire complete transformation while on earth, but even when God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we hope, His love is always at work deep within our hearts.
How tenderly He molds us and how carefully He shapes us! Only the Potter can see the beauty He is crafting in His humble lumps of clay. Patiently, He turns the wheel while applying just the right amount of pressure for the pot to rise within His hands. With the knife He carves, with His own blood He paints, and with the furnace He fires His porcelain masterpiece to completion. When He is satisfied, He holds it to the light. If fired correctly, He will see not the clay, but rather the Light shining through it. When He taps it, it rings . . . vibrating in perfect rhythm with the heart of the Potter!
My son Andrew is a potter, and he recently told me that fine porcelain clay produces the highest quality pottery. Yet to be both beautiful and usable it must be fired at extremely high temperatures. In like manner, the Lord desires to fashion us into beautiful and useful vessels for His service. In God’s hands, pain can be a powerful tool transforming us into the image of Christ. Oh that we would admire His workmanship in us rather than resist the process!
I recently discovered the powerful story of Katherine Wolf, who suffered a major stroke at the age of twenty-six and then learned to overcome in the midst of crushing tragedy. She encourages those of us who hurt, “To suffer well allowing pain to be our tutor by teaching us what really matters in life.” Katherine challenges us to see pain through the lens of God’s love saying, “Don’t waste your pain—cherish it! What if we take our brokenness and celebrate it? Suffering doesn’t have to be the end of our story. Suffering is the beginning of a better story!”
Last year I was dealing with a hurtful situation in my own life and simply wanted the stinging pain to stop. During this time the Holy Spirit spoke these words to my heart: “Why would you want to remove the nails that are holding you to the cross? I am using the very things that hurt you to make you more like Me.”
When we suffer then . . .
Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:1b–2)
Jesus overcame the powers of darkness not only through His life, but also through His suffering, death, and triumphant resurrection. In the same way, we experience victory when we lay our lives down for His highest glory. May He receive all honor and praise as His life is revealed in us and through us!
Be encouraged my friend, for the Lord is doing such a marvelous work in you. I see it clearly right here from my kitchen table! In fact, when I look at you, I see Jesus.
But He knows the way that I take;
When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10)
Father, thank You for sending Jesus to die for me that I might experience Your life, not just when I get to heaven but also here on earth. Help me receive the abundant life You have for me by giving me ears to hear, faith to believe, and courage to walk in obedience to Your Word. Most of all, thank You that You began this good work in me, and I know You will bring it to completion. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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