The past 29 days of examining this habit of celebrating small in marriage, motherhood, and missional living have been extremely stretching for me. I’ve been challenged and encouraged in the day-to-day of chasing big dreams and falling down into the dumps of discouragement. My perspectives and ideas about what it means to praise God and when I should have been refined. And that has the power to change everything in my marriage, family, and ministry.
Refined — made better, purer by stripping down and recreating. Certainly, I am familiar with this process as God refines me each day. This process, however, is anything but comfortable. In my flesh, I want to say, “No more. That’s enough, Lord. I’m good.” But God wants more for me. He wants the reward.
Much to my dismay, it appears, there’s no reward without refining. In Scripture, we can see praise amidst this painful process penned in poetic word.
O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard: Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved. For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.
God is not anti-prosperity, happiness, or success. He is for me and longs to fulfill my heart’s desires as they line up with His will. First and foremost, He is after His glory, but He’s also after my heart.
And when I’m wise enough to look for it, I see His care in both the crippling and the carrying. I see how He sustains my soul and steadies my steps. This is more easy to grasp than what comes next — He brings hardship into my life and allows my enemies to oppress me. He puts me through storms of “fire and water.” But why does He do this? To bring me to the wealthy place — to give me the reward.
What did the Psalmist do in after arriving in the wealthy place? He released his grip on the reward to lift his hands high in praise to the Giver of good gifts. He knew who had lead Him through the pits of poverty into this place of prosperity, and the natural response isn’t reveling in the reward. It’s revival.
The refining isn’t the end of the line. Pain is not the period at the end of a sentence of suffering. The reward is God’s glory and the opportunity to sing it loud and proud. But there’s ample benefit for us in this, too. There’s a wealth of joy and singing and laughter. We praise because God is gracious and faithful in each part of the refining process. We celebrate small — because He has made us able.
How is God refining you?
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God has made us able indeed. God continually refines each one of us though, doesn’t he?