He Can Redeem It All!
by John M. Perkins
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
If James, the New Testament writer, is correct, it is possible to have genuine joy, pure joy, even while we are dealing with some real hard stuff. Most of his readers had been forced to leave their homes because of religious persecution, and they were suffering from extreme poverty. His encouragement to them was to remind them that God was using their very personal struggles to test their faith and produce something glorious. The word for “testing” points back to the process of how gold and silver were refined. They were placed into the refiner’s fire. The heat from the fire melted the gold and silver to a liquid substance. The impurities would rise to the top and could be burned off. What was left was pure gold or pure silver. It’s said that the silversmith would keep putting the silver back into the fire until he was able to see his own reflection in it.
This is what suffering does for each of us. It puts us into the refiner’s fire so that we can come out looking like Him. It reminds me of the lyrics “Please be patient with me, / God is not through with me yet. / …when God gets through with me, / …I shall come forth like pure gold.”
I think a lot about how God redeems the suffering of His children. At the end of it all, Job knew God in a way that he could never have known Him without suffering deeply. This knowledge of God is precious. And it is this that He offers to each of us as we suffer. I find so much comfort and so much joy in this reality.
A. Parnell Bailey visited an orange grove where an irrigation pump had broken down. The season was unusually dry and some of the trees were beginning to die for lack of water. The man giving the tour then took Bailey to his own orchard where irrigation was used sparingly. “These trees could go without rain for another two weeks,” he said. “You see, when they were young, I frequently kept water from them. This hardship caused them to send their roots deeper into the soil in search of moisture. Now mine are the deeper-rooted trees in the area. While others are being scorched by the sun, these are finding moisture at a greater depth.”
This is the great paradox of suffering! Suffering drives us deeper in Him. Suffering drives the roots of our faith deep, deep into the reservoir of His sufficiency. With each new privilege to suffer, our roots go even deeper in Him. And before you know it we have become like the tree that David spoke of in Psalm 1. We become “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers” (Ps. 1:3). Not only are we strengthened to ready ourselves for the next storm, we produce fruit that shelters, nourishes, and encourages others.
I believe that’s what the apostle Paul had in mind when he said, “I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil. 3:10). Can there be any higher purpose for suffering than to make us rich in Him and ready for eternity? I don’t think anything compares to knowing Him with a faith that is unshakeable. He redeems our suffering. He makes much of our suffering in our own lives, and in the lives of others who are watching and decide whether it’s worth it or not to suffer for Him.
Excerpted from Count It All Joy: The Ridiculous Paradox of Suffering by John M. Perkins (© 2021). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.
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