– Jeremy Taylor
Being Shaped Into Christ’s Image
God’s Word says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29), “and we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). These two verses are clear that God’s goal for us is the higher purpose of being shaped into the image of Christ.
Tests the Genuineness of Our Faith
I believe that 1 Peter 1:6-7 proves what trials are to do: “In this you rejoice, 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.” Gold is made more precious when it is refined by fire because it burns away all the impurities and makes the gold all the more genuine and valuable. In the same way, trials refine our faith, and this testing by fire purifies our faith and makes it actually “more precious” than gold.
A good definition of steadfastness is something (or someone, as in this case) firmly fixed in place, immovable, and not subject to change. That is what James writes about: “When you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). The test of trials produces steadfastness, and this same steadfastness allows us to be complete in Him and lack nothing, which is most certainly shaping us for His higher purposes. Truly, “blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
Produces Obedience and Longing
It was said about Christ that “although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered” (Heb. 5:8). Then how much more so does suffering help us learn obedience but also reliance upon God. God’s higher purpose for us is always obedience and reliance upon Him so He receives the glory. Paul wrote, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18), so the suffering we endure today cannot be compared with the glory that’s going to be revealed someday to us. Suffering from trials makes us all the more eager for His return.
A.W. Tozer was right by saying–and I paraphrase here–that God cannot use a man (or woman) greatly until He has first wounded them deeply because trials tenderize our heart and make us more open to correction and perfection, and this shaping is achieving God’s higher purposes for us.