I Shall Come Forth as Gold
The Christian life is not always easy. For years we may have health and strength, riches and prosperity, peace and happiness and then trouble comes. Sometimes it comes as one overwhelming event, other times it is one thing on top of another. Usually you can cope but today you are crushed. Why has this happened? Where is God? What is the purpose in this? Your situation appears hopeless and despair is coming over you.
The case of Job was similar, though worse than any of us are likely to endure. It is recorded for us in the Scriptures to comfort and encourage us in the midst of our trials. There is a purpose and our loving Father will ensure that all our troubles work for our good. He will not push us beyond our capacity and He gives us His grace to sustain us. Job wrote: ‘But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold’ (Job 23:10).
There is wonderful comfort even just in the fact that God knows the way that I take. He has chosen me from all eternity, He sent His Son to die for me and His Spirit to live in my heart. He who spared not His own Son so that I would be saved, will He withhold any good thing from me? He is the all-seeing, all-knowing God, totally aware of my situation. He is the Almighty who is in complete control. Nothing whatsoever happens in this world nor anywhere else but according to His will and counsel (Eph. 1:11). He knows our frame and our weakness. Our Advocate, the Lord Jesus, was tempted in all points like as we are and therefore knows in His own experience what we are going through and He makes continual, effectual intercession for us.
Job wrote: ‘Even today is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning’ (23:2). In the bitterness of my suffering I sigh and groan but cannot adequately express how miserable I am. He had lost all his great wealth. His family, ten children, were killed in a tragic accident. His health was gone, his body covered in itchy and painful boils, so he sat in misery among the ashes scraping himself with a potsherd. His wife encouraged him to end his life, ‘Curse God and die’ (2:9). His three friends visited to comfort him but ended up accusing him of sins which he had never committed.
What is your situation? Have you suffered a burglary, fraud, or a financial disaster? Are you in debt? Have you had a bereavement? Are you afflicted with some horrible, incurable disease, a terminal illness? Has your spouse turned against you and wished you dead? Are your friends spreading false allegations about you? What is troubling you? Remember, God knows.
God is trying me
God is sovereign, so that nothing happens by chance. There is a good purpose in all the Lord’s dealings with us. He is putting us through trials for our benefit. But, you ask, how can this be beneficial to me? Job also had his questions. He exclaimed: ‘Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat! I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know the words which he would answer me, and understand what he would say unto me’ (23:3-5). Job is confused. He has no answer to his questions. If only he could speak to God face to face then he would find out why his life is in a mess and why all these troubles have come upon him.
Just when we need God He can feel far away. We try praying but it is hard. Our words seem to bounce back from the ceiling. We are confused and troubled and feel either God is angry with us or does not care. But, ‘Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me’ (Is. 49:15-16). God cares deeply. Abraham was severely tried when he was asked by God to offer up his only-begotten son, the only one through his wife Sarah, the child of promise and the delight of his old age. Jacob was severely tested when he returned to the promised land and was then confronted by Esau with 400 soldiers. David was very low when he returned to Ziklag and found it burned with fire, his wives and children gone and his men in their despair plotting to stone him, but he encouraged himself in the Lord. God is trying us and we must not give up, nor faint in the day of testing.
I shall come forth as gold
God has a wonderful plan for us. When we were first converted we were far from perfect. That was only the beginning of the road of sanctification. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord. We believe in effectual sanctification just as we believe in effectual calling. God will purify us and make us holy. He does not spoil His children. Training can be painful but it leads to a good outcome. One day we will come forth as gold.
The story is told of a missionary visiting an Indian workshop. The craftsman was purifying gold. He had melted it in a crucible and kept on applying the hot flames to it. The missionary asked, ‘When will you know that it is ready?’ The Indian replied, ‘When I see my face in it’. God will only be satisfied when we are like Him. You feel the pain of the flames but they are necessary to separate the dross from you. Pride is hard to cure; so is self-righteousness, lust, worldliness and our many idols. Faith, hope and love must be strengthened.
Paul had many trials. He endured beatings, stoning, hunger, cold, shipwrecks and friends forsaking him. Speaking of his converts he said, ‘All they which are in Asia be turned away from me’ (2 Tim. 1:15). That must have been very hard. He had a thorn in his flesh which troubled him greatly. Three times he pleaded with the Lord to remove it but the reply he got was, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me’ (2 Cor. 12:9). Paul, like Job of old, emerged from his trials as pure gold.
When we remember God’s purpose and the inheritance awaiting us, surely we can be patient. Paul said, ‘We glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us’ (Rom. 5:3-5). God will see to it that we too emerge as gold.