Testing and Refining

“For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. You bought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment [abundance]” (Psalm 66:10-12).

The “normal Christian life” includes suffering. Jesus promised that “in the world you have tribulation [extreme trouble],” (John 16:33) and he always keeps his promises! Therefore, Peter wrote, “do not think it strange [be surprised] concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as if something strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12).

Among the many possible reasons why God allows, or even sends, pain into our lives, Psalm 66:10 mentions two: Testing, and refining. Difficulties test our faith and allow its genuineness to become apparent to us and to others, for it is only under pressure that we demonstrate what we truly believe, hope for, and love (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Troubles also refine us, burning away impurities, such as excessive attachments to this world and unbelief. Do we really trust God to keep his promises to be with us, to help us and strengthen us, to provide for us, to give us wisdom, and to fulfill his good purposes in the lives of his people (Isaiah 43:10-11; Matthew 6:25-34); James 1:5; Romans 8:28)? God can use affliction to chose to trust his Word rather than the world, including our own feelings.