I Shall Come Forth As Gold
by Tom Stewart
December 17, 2002
"But He knoweth the way that
I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold"
Are you reluctant to pray for patience because the LORD will invariably
give you trials? "But let him ask in faith,
nothing wavering" (James 1:6). The
Sinless Son of Man was "in all points
tempted like as we are" (Hebrews 4:15),
and His flesh felt the pain as much as ours does, for
"no man ever yet hated his own flesh" (Ephesians
5:29), but Jesus willingly allowed the suffering of His flesh to be
the occasion for the maturing of His human character, while He walked among us. "For it became Him [the Father], for Whom are all things, and by Whom are all things, in
bringing many sons unto Glory, to make the Captain [Christ
Jesus] of their Salvation Perfect through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:10). Can we do no less but to receive
our occasional trials from the Father as His means of perfecting our character? "3 Knowing
this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect
and entire, wanting nothing" (James 1:3-4). God has not called us to a monkish masochism, but only to allow the
All Wise Father to choose for us the best means and circumstances for our sanctification. "Wherefore let them that suffer according to the Will
of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a Faithful
Creator" (1Peter 4:19).
Suffering and joy seem so much to be opposites, yet Jesus "Who for the joy that was set before Him endured [took patiently] the Cross" (Hebrews 12:2). The Cross itself was the pain and suffering, but the resulting Atonement for our sins was the joy. "13 Greater Love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" (John 15:13-14). It is evident from Scripture that our true necessity of patience must be matured through the Divinely directed trials of our life. "Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience" (James 1:3). Rather than comparing our circumstances with others or feeling that we have seen an unusually hard turn of events, we are to rejoice as only the LORD's Saints can. "12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His Glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (1Peter 4:12-13). The resulting refinement of our character is worth more than gold. "6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1:6-7).
Any spiritual growth that ever takes place in our life will always be accompanied by the trials of life, for "He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10). Though it is natural for us to shield ourselves from the vicissitudes of life, it is an act of faith to entrust our circumstances to the LORD, placing greater emphasis upon the development of our spiritual character than the defense of our mortal flesh. "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations" (James 1:2). Patience is that misunderstood commodity that must be continually supplied to connect the certainty of our past faith with our hope of seeing the result of the thing promised. "For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the Will of God, ye might receive the Promise" (Hebrews 10:36). Our Faithful God (Deuteronomy 7:9) wisely supplies the opportunity for patience to be formed in us by the "trying of [our] faith [which] worketh patience" (James 1:3). Of course, patience will never be formed in us, if we do not cooperatively endure. "He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Mark 13:13). Remember that Salvation has always been conditional, i.e., on condition of our faith and repentance-- "The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel" (Mark 1:15).
Humanly speaking, we would rather forego our testings by the Almighty, for "no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it" (Ephesians 5:29). But, how can we call ourselves Christian, if we only trust God when things are seemingly going well, when our peers feel that we walk spiritually, and when the world thinks that we prosper? "17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:17-18). We are prone to think that Scripture describes only the suffering that comes at the hands of those that oppose Christianity; but, even more often, our suffering simply will come from our physical circumstances. "Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered" (Hebrews 5:8). In fact, God must periodically hide His face from us to strengthen our faith-- just read about Job. "Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the Name of the LORD, and stay upon his God" (Isaiah 50:10). [If the thought intrigues you that God may actually withhold the Light of His face to accomplish the strengthening of the faith of the tested but upright Saint, then read a sermon by Charles G. Finney ---New Window based on Isaiah 50:10, "Fearing the Lord and Walking in Darkness" ---New Window.]
To be sure, Job is remembered for his trials, but God remembers him for his patience. "Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the LORD; that the LORD is very pitiful, and of tender mercy" (James 5:11). Some may feel Job to be a weak specimen of faith, since the bulk of the Book of Job centers upon Job's bewilderment with why God would allow him, whom even God described as a "perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil" (Job 1:8), to be stripped of every outward vestige of the past signs of God's blessings, sparing only Job's life. But, God esteemed Job most highly-- "And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the Earth" (1:8)-- and He continues to esteem him among the very best. "Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD" (Ezekiel 14:14). For this reason, many of Job's pronouncements in the dialogues of the Book of Job reflect the elevated and pristine understanding of one of the finest Saints to have walked the Earth, though finally he had to admit to the Almighty that he had taken too much upon himself in questioning the wisdom and providence of God. "1 Then Job answered the LORD, and said, 2 I know that Thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from Thee. 3 Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. 4 Hear, I beseech Thee, and I will speak: I will demand of Thee, and declare Thou unto me. 5 I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee. 6 Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:1-6).
Promises are essential to sanctify us and keep us from giving up during the trials of our life. "Whereby are given unto us Exceeding Great and Precious Promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine Nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2Peter 1:4). These promises are really only a revelation of the faithfulness of God. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is Faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1Corinthians 10:13). Cling to the promises of God, especially when everything seems dark, temptation is strong, and the light of the LORD's face seems as far away as when the LORD allowed Job to be spoiled. "1 I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of His wrath. 2 He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light... 19 Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. 20 My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. 21 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. 22 It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:1-2, 19-23).
Believe that God will deliver, if you persevere. "26 And He said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me... 7 And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?" (Genesis 32:26; Luke 18:7). Focus on trusting Him, though all appearances show you to be a fool for doing so. "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him" (Job 13:15). Trust that God is not through with you, because He is still taking you through the deep waters. "Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). Count upon your refinement, since the Master Himself is performing the process. "But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10). Rely that God will succeed in getting from you whatever is needful, so long as you trust Him. "Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass" (Psalm 37:5). Remember that God always rewards the obedience of faith, especially when all outward signs are only darkness. "Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no Light? let him trust in the Name of the LORD, and stay upon his God" (Isaiah 50:10).
Let me conclude by quoting Charles G. Finney's admonition from "Fearing the Lord and Walking in Darkness":
"Do not confound apathy and backsliding with that state of mind that trusts God in darkness. They are as much opposites as two states can be. One is a state of obedience, the other of disobedience--one of strong faith, the other of no faith at all--one of great and active love, the other of perfect stupidity and stagnation of soul like a putrid lake. In one, the soul rises above all the gusts and storms of doubt and fear into the calm blue sky of unfaltering trust; in the other, it sinks below both blue sky and howling wind, as into the death damps of the grave. Do not, I beseech you, mistake apathy for trust in God. Beloved, will you trust in God?"
faith it is impossible to please Him" (Hebrews
[For additional help, see the Promises ---New Window section of our website. Also, our articles, "Exceeding Great and Precious Promises" ---New Window and "How to Trust God" ---New Window, may assist you in persevering until the LORD comes for you.]
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