I know you’ve been there. That day when NOTHING goes right. That day when your kiddo gets sick and you don’t have childcare. That day when you discover a past due bill that didn’t get paid. That day when you collapse into your empty bed, which for some reason seems emptier now than it ever has before.
That day when you realize, yet again, that you are a single mom.
Okay, I know some of you would say this is everyday. But you know there are those days that just stand out from the rest (and I’m not talking in a “gold star” kind of way). The days that make you wonder, “Did it really have to be this way?”
It’s a hard question. And sometimes it seems there are no good answers. But we are loved by the God of answers, who never leaves us stranded without hope.
Understanding Trials: The Fire of Refinement
The trials of life are hard to understand. We know God loves us, but why does He allow us to experience such painful circumstances?
Psalm 66:10 says, “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried” (ESV). This verse refers to the refining process of precious metals– if you’re not familiar with the metallurgical arts, I’ll give you a quick overview. Raw silver is often impure, containing other metals that not only make the silver more likely to tarnish and harder to form, but also more vulnerable to corrosion.
Vulnerable to destruction.
The destructive influences of our lives are the things that make us settle for a lesser version of ourselves. And God doesn’t want to leave us that way. His desire is that we’d experience all kinds of good things, (things which the muck in our lives often gets in the way of).
Here’s the catch. Silver in biblical times was purified by fire. Fire was required to prove just how pure or impure the raw silver was, by drawing out the impure contaminants from the precious silver. But once separated, impurities could then be more easily eliminated.
When we are tried as silver is tried, it not only shows us what we are made of, it gives us the chance to get rid of what weighs us down.
Those most stressful moments of single mom-dom show us what baggage we’re still carrying around. Guilt. Anger. Loneliness. Rejection. And the purpose isn’t to make you feel bad about it; it’s to get rid of it.
Where is God in My Struggle?
Sometimes when we think of testing, it feels like we’re doing it alone. We think of God as some strict schoolteacher, standing at the front of the classroom while we anxiously toil over a final exam.
But girl, that is so not the Truth.
If we continue through Psalm 66, verse 12 says “We went through fire and through water; But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.” We do not bring ourselves out of fiery trials; God does. Times of testing actually reveal our weaknesses, so we would choose not rely on our own strength to make it through, but God’s.
And I don’t know about you, but I vote God’s strength over mine, ANY DAY.
You see, God is not the teacher at the front of the class when you’re being tested. He’s sitting right with you, encouraging you. Sure, He will show you when you need to make corrections, but wouldn’t you prefer that to waiting until it’s too late to find out where you had it wrong? What’s more, this is an open book test; the more you look to His Word for guidance, you’ll see He shows you just where to look to get the answers you need.
Our God is not distant. He is with you, and for you.
The enemy wants us to believe we are alone in trials, because it makes us afraid. And when we are afraid, we resist change. But when you understand that God is right there with you in the fire, fear is burned away, and like purified silver, the heart softens and can be easily reshaped. You are able to see the corrosive affects of pain and fear, and can start to let it go. Then you stop settling for this bound-up, disappointed, bedraggled version of yourself to embrace the life of freedom God desires for you in Him.
And then you experience the fruit of purification– transformation.
And don’t forget, this verse also says God brings us out of trials to rich fulfillment. Other translations say “abundance” or “a wealthy place.” Now that can mean a whole variety of things, above and beyond material needs. But when you entrust your life to our limitless and generous God, you know it’s going to be good.
With Us in the Fire
The Bible chronicles the lives of three men who faithfully walked through a trial by fire: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These three guys are mentioned in the book of Daniel because they refused to worship the gods of their captor, the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. Nebby became furious that the men wouldn’t bow to his idols and threatened to throw them into a fire to be burned alive.
The trio defiantly answered the king, saying “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king” (Daniel 3:17, ESV). Nebuchadnezzar angrily had the men thrown into the furnace, but before he could utter a final goodbye-and-good-riddance, he noticed something peculiar.
Where he expected to see three men among the flames, there were FOUR. There was another in the fire.
He called Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego out of the fire, because even he could put the pieces together to figure out their God had indeed delivered them, as they said He would. Believed He would. Trusted He would.
In this case, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego underwent the fire of testing, perhaps not so much for the purpose of purification, but as proof of their faith. Beyond being rescued from the flames (BTW– totally unsinged and unharmed), these three men were promoted to positions of higher rank in Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom.
Does that thing about “rich fulfillment” ring a bell here?
You are not alone in the fire. God sees you and wants to bring you good things out of the troubles you are experiencing. Draw closer to God (we have some ideas in our 5 Essential Tips to Heal from Divorce) and we know you will begin to see what He’s already working out in your life.
Do you have a story of God walking with you through the fire? If so, leave us a comment because we’d like to hear about it!