– Richard Baxter
God never wastes suffering. Job ended up with twice as much as he had before and grew much closer to God. God is nearest to us when our hearts are broken and our spirits are crushed (Psalm 34:18). When Joseph was living in that filthy, rat-infested, cockroach heaven in the king’s dungeon, the Scriptures said, time and again, “And the Lord was with Joseph” (Gen 39:2-6). This was actually preparing Joseph to interpret the dreams of the butler and the baker (Gen 40) and later, pharaoh’s dreams, and saved many lives. The evil done to Joseph brought about much good (Gen 50:20).
This life is training ground for the kingdom of heaven so we need to learn how to be more like Christ. That’s the goal, right? The Apostle Peter tells us that part of the reason for trials is to refine us and shape up into His image. Peter writes “though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1st Pet 1:6-7). Gold that’s been refined is more precious because it’s passed through the fire and had some impurities burned away.
If you read Romans 7, you can see how Paul (and we) struggle against our old sinful nature. It’s like there’s a war going on, but the good news is that there is a war going on at all. What I mean is if you’re battling against sin, you’re showing evidence of trying to live a life of holiness. A lifetime of struggle over sin and resisting temptation is called sanctification. The root word for sanctification is “sanctify,” which means to set apart for holy use, and we as vessels of clay must still strive to bring glory to God in the way we live our lives. We’ll never being sinless in this life but may we be sinning, less!
God doesn’t waste one single drop of our tears. He takes it and mixes it with the miray clay and shapes and forms us into the image of Christ, more and more every day. It takes a lot of time my friends…for us, a lifetime. We are striving to become more like Jesus by living more like Jesus, so think of this life as preparation for the time of perfection.