“My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you…”
Galatians 4:19, NAS
If you have ever tried to shape clay into a recognizable form, you understand how important it is to have good clay and excellent skills as a potter. Well, God is more than excellent as a potter but He has to deal with human lumps of clay that keep trying to slide off the wheel! He has devised many methods by which He can accomplish His purpose. The Bible refers to many of them but let me mention three.
THE REFINER’S FIRE. To live holy and righteous lives, we cannot tolerate the presence of sin in our lives. Since we are not naturally inclined to rid ourselves of sin’s impurity, the Lord will refine us just as a refiner of precious metals does to burn away the impurities – He will use fire.
STORMY WEATHER. The Lord allows storms to come into our lives which helps us understand the sufficiency of Christ in all circumstances. While we try to avoid storms, the Lord wants us to learn the lessons that cannot be taught in the bright light. Only when the winds and rains threaten us will the profound work of building trust in Him be accomplished.
PIERCING THORNS. Our need to depend upon the Lord never diminishes. Paul prayed that the Lord would remove the thorn in his flesh but God’s answer was, “My grace is sufficient for you for my strength is perfected in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Sometimes the thorns are reminders that for Christ to continue to be formed in us, we should never cease to depend upon the Lord and His grace.
Most of us would prefer less painful ways to grow in the image of Christ. But God indeed knows what is best for us. He can be trusted in all things.
QUESTION: What are the trials you are going through right now that may be God’s refiner’s fire, storm, or thorn? How can you develop a thankful heart for the blessing of God’s difficult measures for shaping our lives to be like Jesus? Has there been one area in particular that has caused you to wonder about either God’s wisdom or goodness?