While experiencing incredible pain through a process of purification I have come to realize something important: purification = pain. Here are some thoughts on the pain in purification.
Basically I have a fantasized version of what living life as a Christian entails. I picture being abandoned to God, living holy, maturing in Christ etc … as being much easier than they are in real life. And because it’s easier in my head than in reality, the actual pain of refinement almost always surprises me.
I truly want to be purified in God’s fire, yet somehow I overlook at least two vital points in the process:
1) If the fire is purifying me, it’s burning me. Just as there is fierce pain that can’t be avoided when flesh is laid wasted to open flame, so too there is real pain, pungent and rich, when God applies His reducing fire to your soul. Don’t expect to be purified without the incredible burning that accompanies it.
2) Since purification rids an object of impurities it demands there will be less of the object in the end. In my fantasy-land mentality I tend to miss the fact that when a flame tears into it’s fuel, whether it be wood, paper, or flesh, there is less of the thing left after the flame has had its way. And so, when Gods sanctifying fires alight upon my soul, be it through suffering, discipline or correction, there will always be less of me left after the flame has run its course.
It is a sweet misery, but don’t be fooled the misery is real! Peter said suffering finds favor with God (1 Peter 2:20). The trick is – suffering means you have to actually suffer. Who comprehends the blaze that’s necessary to purge the soul of its pollutants?
If only I could remember the pain of the process so that it doesn’t take me unaware. Perhaps that’s part of God’s plan, that I only look to the end of the purifying and don’t consider the sting of the purging. For why would I willingly offer my heart to His flame, knowing the potential agonies that await? Answer: Only to possess the greater glory.
For the glories that will be revealed in me, are not worthy to be compared to the sufferings that precede them. And then, in light of this, I pray my heart would take courage and without complaint, even through the pain, willingly entreat Him for a fire that will devour me and reduce me to what He dreams.
Ultimately the pain is worth the outcome and the means are worth the end. But, Oh the necessity of grace to persevere on the way.