“For You, O God, have tested us;
You have refined us as silver is refined.
You brought us into the net;
You laid affliction on our backs.
You have caused men to ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water;
But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.” (Psalm 66:10-12)
As the people of God, we will undoubtedly go through periods of refinement. There will be times of affliction, times when burdens press hard against our backs. There will be times when we seem to be dragged into the net, when people will “ride over our heads,” when we will go through the fire and through the water.
Upon reading Job chapter 1, I questioned how Job was able to worship God when his loved ones and all of his possessions were stripped away from him all at once, beyond human reasoning.
From the actions Job took, we can learn how to worship God during times of trials and tribulations. He immediately ‘fell to the ground and worshipped’ (vs 20). He simply did not make time to complain or murmur. Instead, he remembered who God is, and praised Him. Though it is clear that Job was in deep sorrow, his emotions did not distract him or move his faith. He was wise to know that to endure these sufferings is better than to curse, sin or charge God with wrong (vs 22). Described as ‘blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil’, it is clear Job had established a strong and immovable relationship with God. He had not allowed his possessions and children to become idols in his heart, as he understood that God is the Creator of all things. Thus, when he was hit with such great calamity, Job found his source of strength in God, and was not easily overcome.
But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (Mk 10:38, cf. v39-40; Lk 12:50)
The baptism that Jesus was referring to here is not water baptism, but the baptism of trials and suffering. When I was young and an unbeliever, I used to wonder, “Why are good kids bullied in school? If the problem is not with them, why are they ostracized for being good?” It took me a while to realize that such kids—coming from good, loving, and often privileged homes, who are meek, good-tempered, and usually bright—are frequently the target of bullies because of jealousy. This is often inexplicable, but the human psyche is not easy to understand. Is it better then for them to renounce their good nature or privilege just to avoid the bullying? Of course not.
Moses makes a point throughout all Deuteronomy to make the Israelites remember the blessings of God during their travel in the wilderness. In chapter 8, he does not mention the great big miracles like crossing the Red Sea or the victorious battles they fought. Rather, he focuses on the very basics—that their feet that were not swollen, their clothes that did not wear out, and that they were fed with manna every single day. In fact, Moses mentions it twice in the entire book (29:5).
Often, these are the things that we take most easily for granted. Continue reading