Christians often talk about God’s work of refining us and changing us into better people. It has a nice ring to it, but in reality, it can be a pretty tough experience. To “refine” literally means “to free (something, such as metal, sugar, or oil) from impurities or unwanted material; to improve or perfect by pruning or polishing.” Refining something inherently means that we are changing that thing, we are removing substances from it – but we are ultimately making it better.
God knows our inner beings and our deepest desires, but He also knows the ways in which we can improve. He wants to make us better people, and when we follow His will and plan for our lives, we are able to live the best life possible. Proverbs 17:3 says, “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.” Daily circumstances are not the things that will give us joy. Our heart and mindset are what God wants to turn to focus on Him. He wants to change our hearts for our own good.
We might not even know that we are being “refined” until we reach the end of a difficult season. When we think about refining ourselves, it can be an uncomfortable idea. Going through something that will change us is not easy, but when God is involved, it is always for the best.
Sometimes, when we are within a trial, it can feel like we will never get through it. The process can seem cloudy and might feel like we can’t see clearly, but if we remember that God is with us – even through the hard times – then we can have faith that He will see us through to the other side. It can feel as if we are sludging along and barely making it to the end of each day, but God will show up. He will get us through, and when we see His faithfulness, we will be able to remember these times in the future when we are in the midst of another trial.
It always seems easier to look to the past and remember when God has answered our prayers, but in the midst of our praying and crying out to Him, it is hard to anticipate any light at the end of the tunnel.
We might think that we know what the perfect life looks like, what the best time would be for certain things to happen. But the reality is that God holds each one of our lives in the palm of His hand. He knows exactly what He is doing, and He wants us to trust Him even when we don’t understand His plan.
The seasons of difficulty give us perspective and testimony for the calmer seasons in the future. But it’s important to remember that we don’t know what other people might be going through at any given time. Storms can appear to be different sizes depending on the person who is in the middle of them. Remember to offer the same grace to others that we receive from God when we cry out to Him.
The story of Job is a compelling reminder of God’s power over His plan for our lives. When everything is taken from him, Job cries out, lamenting over his hardships. He feels as if God has abandoned him, but he still knows that God is with him:
“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him;
he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.
But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” (Job 23)
Even when we are in the refining process of going through trials, we should remember that God is right there with us. He does not want us to believe the lie that we are alone. Jesus is in control of everything, even the hard times, but we don’t have to go through them alone. He promises to be with us, “always, to the end of the age.”
Charlotte Pence Bond is the New York Times best-selling author of Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President along with two other books in the series. Her first solo book, Where You Go: Life Lessons from My Father (Center Street) was released in October 2018 and reveals lessons her father, Vice President Mike Pence, has taught her. She is a current contributor to Lightworkers.com and her work has been published in The Washington Times, Glamour magazine and featured in US Weekly, among other major media outlets. A graduate of DePaul University with a BA in Digital Cinema Screenwriting and English, Charlotte contributed writing and production skills to the Emmy Award-winning documentary Fleeced (WFYI Productions). Charlotte currently attends Harvard Divinity School where she is a candidate for a Masters in Theological Studies, with an emphasis on religious themes in literature and culture.