It is something that I cannot begin to understand. Not of myself, or anyone that I have ever met.

The profound truth contained within “I’ve never met a strong person with an easy past” (some attribute it to the poet Atticus). Why do we as humans persist to learn only when we are in pain?

Why couldn’t we observe others and learn from that? Why do we have to have our hearts torn out, our lives derailed, our livelihood threatened before we pay attention?

The second question that is inside of me bursting out today is; Why does God use pain, suffering, betrayal, sickness, financial ruin, desertion, loneliness and mind-boggling stress to talk to us?

We know the Bible stories – Trust in Jesus and all will be well; Ask God for anything and it will be granted. It does not prepare us at all for:

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) – For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

It is in the spiritual battleground, unseen by the naked eye, that God needs us. It is in this spiritual war-zone where we actually live. We are deceived by the rulers, authorities, and the powers of this dark world into believing that our lives are about prosperity, comfort, and privilege.

We try to make sense of our fragmented physical lives, looking at it from a perspective of flesh, in the hope that understanding will emerge. Undoubtedly there are people’s lives that make perfect sense, then there are people like me.

It is an investigation of our lives from the spiritual war zone that brings some clarity. Armed with 20/20 hindsight, some experience, patience and deep – I mean deep – a devotion that God in His mercy shows us what He has been up to all along.

Psalm 34:18 (NIV) – The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

I can with OVERWHELMINGLY joy attest to the truth of this verse. I have just received victory from the jaws of defeat – by His Grace.

I should be dancing in the streets, singing to the hills and proclaiming to the heavens. But I am not. Instead, I am brokenhearted, sad, disappointed and ashamed of my personal conduct during this particular battle. I did manage this a lot better than previous tribulations, but I stand here and admit that if God’s Grace did not reach down to me, I would have flailed and faltered.

Isn’t it astonishing then that God set up the meeting between us and Him amidst the bloody and merciless torturing and killing of His only begotten son?

Is this God’s way of showing us that we are in this fight together?

In my view obtaining salvation is remarkably easy. It is moving from freshly saved to a useful instrument that seems to be difficult and challenging.

If we then consider suffering as the method of progress, the teaching tool and to some degree essential, does this text now read differently to you?

John 15:1-4 (NIV) – “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me?

As the potter kneads the clay, we the clay feel the pain. We experience the push, the pull, and the pressure. We feel how our lumps are pressed out, how we are worked and worked until we reach a usable consistency. Then there is the glorious forming process, where we are made useful; formed into utility, into art or into a tool.

We have to dry out completely, absolutely, bone dry, not a spec of water before we are ready for the fire.

Looking at my life, I don’t know if I am still being kneaded, drying our, or being formed – All I do know that I am in His hands now…


Jesus already went through the fire – for us…

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God bless you.

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Author's Bio: 

Anton van den Berg is a normal person. I have no specialized theological training but I have led a life of hard and tough lessons. Like silver, I had to be taken to the furnace to get rid of a lot of impurities. In that process, I have learned to let certain things go, and to attach to other values. These posts represent some of the pivotal growth-moments in that journey. I hope that it would assist you on your journey in some way. May God Almighty, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit be with you.