“Job stood up and tore his robe in grief.  Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship.  He said, I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave.  The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away.  Praise the name of the Lord!  In all this, Job did not sin by blaming God.” Job 1:20-22)

One of my favorite places in the world is sitting next to any fire . . . fire places, fire pits, bonfires.  I’m sitting in front of a fire alone this very moment spending some time reflecting on how God has brought me through some pain and suffering in my life. Mine has been minuscule compared to many others but it is mine nonetheless…and it’s the most important parts of my God Story.  That’s true of you, too, whether you have chosen to lean into that truth or not in your life.

In the Bible, fire is most often used as the perfect picture of purifying and taking people and things down to their core.  1 Corinthians 3:12-13 says, “Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials – gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay or straw.  But on the judgement day fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done.  The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.”

I’ve become used to telling my story to others.  I’ve got “elevator” versions (1-2 minutes), “water cooler” versions (3-4 minutes) and “coffee shop” versions (30-60+ minutes).  But the conclusion is always the same:  The three most significant, transformational, breakthrough moments that God has used to bring meaning and purpose and joy to my life have all involved pain and suffering!  A marriage crisis…a vocational crisis…a health crisis.  There were times when I was in survival mode, not fully aware of all that God was doing in me.  But today, I have nothing but profound, deep gratitude to God for allowing those things to change me.  Those things needed – no, HAD to happen – in my life.

Let Him use the hard things in your life to change you.  You will thank Him the rest of your days. Just had to tell you that today in front of the warmth of this fireplace.

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