– Henry Ward Beecher
The Tool of Refinement
Like a refiner makes gold pass through the fire to free it from impurities, making it more valuable, so God allows us to be passed through the fires of life 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” (1 Pet. 1:7). As James wrote, “The testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:3), and a tested faith is able to endure more severe trials so that we can persevere.
The Tool of Evil
God can even use the wicked to work out His purposes (Prov. 16:4), and He sometimes uses those who do evil against us for our own good. Just look at the cross where Jesus was tried illegally in a court at night, which was forbidden by law, using false witnesses who committed perjury to lie about Him. This despicable evil was used in God’s purpose as a way for us to receive payment for our sins and be reconciled to God by Jesus’ death on the cross. Martin Luther once wrote that even the devil is God’s devil, and just like Joseph’s brothers did much evil to him, Joseph proclaimed, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Gen. 50:20).
The Tool of Purpose
God looks at trials and troubles much differently than we do. Like a person who casts a die with hot, molten metal, if the metal was not heated up into liquid form, it could never fit into the form or die that it was being cast or poured into. Our trials mold us more into the image of God and make us more pliable where He can work with us more easily. Paul’s thorn in the flesh kept him humble, and his sufferings likely kept him often in prayer. To have a mind that’s renewed is to make sure we’re reshaped into His image and not conformed into the image that the world tries to squeeze us into (Rom. 12:1-2).
The Tool of Storms
I believe the storms of life serve many purposes. We have storms of direction, storms of perfection, storms of correction, and storms of reflection. Sometimes God uses storms to direct our lives away from where we’d hurt ourselves and toward what is best. Sometimes God uses storms of perfection, refining us and knocking off the rough, ungodly edges of our character. Sometimes God uses storms of correction to show us that we are living in disobedience, and the storms are a consequence of our actions, which is like a storm of affection, showing that He disciplines every son and daughter He loves (Prov. 3:12; Heb. 12:6). Sometimes God uses storms to make us look at ourselves in an attempt to see us as God sees us, to look to Him, to pray to Him, to cry out to Him, and to not focus on the troubles.
God always has our best interests in mind … always, no matter what it looks like. He even uses trouble as a tool by which He fashions us, and this fashioning is intended for better things … always, no exceptions.