1999-08-17 - Trials Turned to Gold
James 1:12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
Just what every growing teenager wants after a tough morning of classes: a big, juicy pruneburger. A pruneburger? Well, it's on the menu at a growing number of U.S. schools, thanks to the marketing efforts of the California Prune Board which is pushing the patty, made of hamburger mixed with prune puree, as a healthy low fat lunch alternative.
Sometimes that which is good for us sounds a little unappealing. But it is very possible that a pruneburger might be a healthy alternative to a plain hamburger, I really can't be sure since I am not a nutritionist. Here is what I do know about pruneburgers, they don't sound appealing to me.
Here is also what I know about many things in the Christian life: At first blush, they seem unattractive. When I first think of many things (good things) they often seem like pruneburgers. Christian duties like earnestness, self-examination, fellowship, sanctification, virtue, love, worship, study, trials, humility, mortification, piety, perseverance, and repentance all seem like a lot of work.
In many ways these aspects of the Christian life are the Christian life. But they are also a lot of work. For example, the trials that a Christian goes through in life. Trials are not fun, but they are one of the notable ways of distinguishing between true faith and false faith. Under trials real faith has the opportunity to shine through. Under trials spurious faith has a tendency to cave in and show its fraudulent nature.
The test to determine whether that which has the appearance of gold is really gold, is the trial by furnace. So also the test of our faith is called a trial when those who make an appearance of faith are put to the test to see if they are real saints. Just as true gold, when put into a furnace, is found to be of great value, so also the inestimable treasure and virtues of a true Christian surface when under trial.
Sometimes even the best and most wonderful elements of the Christian life can appear unattractive. While trials may have pruneburger like elements to them, they serve a vital and wonderful purpose in the plan of God. They are good for us! And may God give us the grace to see this and learn how to forge our trials into the gold of Christian character.
"Whether God come to His children with a rod or a crown, if He come Himself with it, it is well. Welcome, welcome, Jesus! What way soever Thou comest, if we can get sight of Thee. And sure I am that it is better to be sick, providing Christ come to the bedside, and draw by the curtains, and say, "Courage! I am thy salvation!" than to enjoy health, being lusty and strong, and never to be visited by God." Samuel Rutherford
Soli Deo Gloria,