Summer is in full swing, accentuated by the beauty of nature. It's warm breezes carry the delightful scent of roses, the nostalgic sweetness of honeysuckle, and the captivating whiffs of gardenias. Heavenly bouquets beckon us to linger for just a moment longer to delight in their lovely fragrance. The flowers will fade too soon, but there's a way to capture their fragrant aromas. …
Perfume. One spray from a perfume bottle can pleasantly permeate a whole room. Have you ever wondered how perfume is made?
There's a few ways. One way is to gather flowers, wash them, dry them, and crush them. After the finely-crushed petals are mixed with distilled water and alcohol, the result is poured into a beautiful bottle. Another way to make perfume is to boil and simmer the rinsed petals. The flower mixture is then poured through cheesecloth to remove the impurities, allowing only the purified floral water to pass through. So to make perfume, you have to crush or boil flowers. To create the beautiful aroma, it first must go through an intense process that involves heating or crushing.
So why do I share this? The process of perfume-making mirrors the process we go through during a trial. Life may seem sweet one moment but then a trial comes and we feel crushed … we feel the heat! But could God be using our disappointments and trials to create a pleasing aroma for Him?
God's purpose for our trials and our suffering is to produce maturity in us …
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4)
The apostle Paul says something similar … "rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope" (Romans 5:3-4 ESV).
God can use trials to produce in us maturity, endurance, character and ultimately, hope. Now these qualities are a pleasing aroma to God!
But how exactly are these qualities produced? Just like in perfume-making, the process of purification is important. God uses trials to purify our hearts, eliminating impurities like anger, bitterness, envy, and unforgiveness. It is often after a trial, when things have cooled down, that we can see the impurities of our heart that needed to be removed.
What trials are you going through? The varieties are as endless as the flowers. Maybe for you it's financial trouble, or the constant fighting in your family. Maybe it's ongoing stress at work or a medical diagnosis that has created worry. It could be that taking a stand for something you believe in has turned your friends into enemies.
There's no shortage of troubles in a broken world. But whether life heats to a boil or crushes us, we can choose to become a sweet aroma just like Christ.
"Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."(Ephesians 5:1-2)
Remember, the mere presence of a trial or pain is not a promise that impurities will be removed from your life. The trial itself does not produce purity. Your attitude and response toward your trial makes all the difference.
When a trial comes our way — when we feel crushed or like the heat is turned up — we can choose to respond in biblical ways. …
Pray about it — I will not worry, but pray about everything.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
Read your Bible — I will saturate my mind with Scripture.
"I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word" (Psalm 119:15-16).
Help somebody — I will look for ways to reach out and help others.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God" ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Give thanks — I will thank God for all that He is doing in my life.
"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
God loves you. God is with you. In fact, He never leaves your side. He understands your weakness and cares about what troubles you. You may feel crushed and you may feel the heat, but remember that God will use it to mature you … and to create a pleasing aroma.
"For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing." (2 Corinthians 2:15)