I have been thinking about something for some time, and would like to bounce it off of all of you. It seems like every Christian I know is going through some sort of major trial or trials … One Christian woman’s husband got discouraged and left following the Lord, and since he is so convicted every day and feels horrible and depressed, he takes it out on his family, so she is miserable and has been and wants to leave him … some are battling cancer or other life- threatening diseases … some are facing financial ruin … some have children who have left following the Lord, and are a source of constant heartache for the parents … and on and on. The trials are all different, but everyone is in a pressure cooker.
So I was thinking about pressure cookers, and about how when the pressure is on, what is really in our hearts tends to come out. Including the ugly dross. The heat of the fiery trials can purify away the dross, so that what is left in our hearts is refined silver. Then the smith has material for a vessel, Proverbs tells us. When the dross is purified away, God can finally use us as He sees fit.
I have been thinking about in my own life, and in the lives of the people I know who are in the pressure cooker, the various ways we Christians tend to respond to the pressure, the trials, the tribulations. We can get confused or discouraged as to why God is even allowing us to go through trials. To us, the Lord says, "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing" (1 Peter 4:12-13). And about this testing, the Lord further says, "You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not" (Deuteronomy 8:2).
So perhaps that explains why we have the wilderness experience in the pressure cooker. A common response to the pressure cooker is to run from whatever the perceived pressure is. Escape! This is when people get divorced or quit jobs or churches. The problem is, that doesn’t get us out of the wilderness; we just have to keep going through more of the same until we finally face the dross coming out of our hearts and resolve to be purified of it by walking in the Lord’s commandments.
Others respond to the pressure cooker by giving up, in various ways. Stop going to church or actively serving the Lord, perhaps get involved in some sin in the hopes that we can numb the pain. Maybe even change our theology in order to accomodate whatever compromises we end up making. Giving up does not, however, deliver us from the pressure cooker either.
But there is a better way. While many of Israel fell in the wilderness because they chose one of the above options, many did keep to the Lord their God and entered into the Promised Land. So there is another way. If we notice the dross coming out, and we are appalled by how ugly it is, we can repent of whatever the dross is and take hold of the fruit of self- control or of patience or of gentleness or whatever we need, and walk in newness of life.
We can keep our eyes focused on the log in our own eye, and not on whatever our brother is or is not doing, and pass the test! If we keep in mind that we are being tested, then when the next pop quiz comes up (LOL) hopefully we can learn to look to the throne of grace for help in time of need and pass the test. And as we learn what the commandments of God are, we can be even more determined to adhere to obedience to the Lord with our whole heart. Blessings eventually will follow obedience!