I prayed for it. Patience. Integrity.
Literally, and in my own words, my supplications mirrored that of the famed poet, songwriter, musician and monarch: Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me (King David, Psalm 51).
I expected God to honor a request like that. I just never expected what was required to honor it.
Let’s consider: God’s ultimate plan is to bring us home. But we can’t enter those gates “as is.”
Kingdom-ready Christians experience tests of faith that authenticate the strength of their character. Because God so desires to have us with him, sharing in the eternal joy he has waiting, he will try and test us. Now this isn’t your in-a-queue-at-the-bank-on-pay-day kind of test (though some of us [me included] may find this to be a little “more than you can bear”).
When I asked God to refine my character, I was essentially giving him the right to do whatever he needed to do to fulfill my request. My reaction?
Tears. Frustration. Anger....
Omniscient? Really? Then how come, God, you didn’t stop this from happening?! If your plans are to prosper and not to harm, how come I’m so BROKEN and BRUISED and STUCK IN LIMBO?!
It would seem Job’s wife had the right idea. After all, what really was the point?
Then the thought struck me: what if God loves you so much he’s willing to risk experiencing your hate?
Experiencing my hate?
Yes. Because the tests are going to be heavy and painful. You will likely feel so broken you’ll wonder if there’s anything of you left to salvage. You will encounter darkness and loss, doubt and fear. And in all of this you will be asked to trust. Hating God won’t seem so inconceivable after all that.
On the other side of Jordan, hindsight provides perspective that often brings peace.
The crucibles are the answer to my prayer. Patience won’t be fully acquired just by experiencing rush hour traffic daily. The battle for integrity won’t be won by simply arranging to have a phone, left in a taxi, returned to its rightful owner. These are like pop quizzes for that course you’re always ahead in. The real tests of faith bring you to your knees, constant in prayer, totally dependent on God.
Should we, through our difficult experiences, recognize our truly awful state, turn to him for cleansing and ultimately turn our lives around, then it would have all been worth the risk. For that kind of response, God is prepared to face our fury.
At the end of the day, he wants to bring us home. And kingdom-ready characters are built by adversity.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
~James 1:12, NIV