December is my mom’s birthday month. The other day, Jessica and I worked on making her a birthday card. Whenever the day comes that it’s time to really put something together, it always takes a few practice runs for my brain to warm up. This allows the letters to come out looking good, and my brain to get the spacing of the words just right. Even though I have been practicing my handwriting, my brain is never ready to write a message on the first try. For the most part, my letters came out looking good. The one letter that gave me the most trouble was the letter “s”.
When Jessica was teaching me to write for the first time, we were trying to keep everything simple. With the letter “s” she would say, “Think of going curve to curve. That worked when I was first learning to write, but I’ve had many occasions to work on my handwriting since then. Now that we could pay more attention to detail, we were trying to work on making my letters more refined.
In order to help me perfect the letter “s”, Jessica put coins on my paper and told me to go in a circle to the left and don’t stop until I get to the bottom. I did just that. Sometimes my “s”’s would come out looking like fives, sometimes “g”’s, sometimes “j”’s; I came up with some interesting shapes.
Jessica got to my house very early in the morning, and it took me until after lunch to be ready to write the message. Even though I write my name at least twice a week at the hospital on a clipboard, and I also practice throughout the week at home, sometimes, when I sign a card my hand needs guidance to make sure letters are small enough to fit the whole message. When I really want to accomplish something like writing my name or a longer message, I really have to work at it. I’m always working on refining my writing; I was so excited when I did Mom’s birthday card. I wrote the entire message all by myself. The only thing Jessica did was give me some verbal cueing reminding me to space out my letters.
It reminded me of how in my Christian walk, the Lord is always working to refine my character, and make me more like Him in His image. Just when I think I know all the Bible verses on suffering, and I know how to have a good attitude with my disability, something happens that makes me realize the Lord still needs to work on that part of my character.
I looked up a few Bible verses on refinement and here’s what I found. My favorite one was 1 Peter 1 6-7, where it says, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed
Any piece of art takes great work and effort. Having a relationship with God is the same way. Especially here in America where we have all the modern conveniences and technology, it’s easy to trust God when everything is going well and life is comfortable. However, what happens when He throws a curve ball in our lives such as a loved one getting sick? Can you still say, “God is good?” or will you shake a fist at Him and curse Him?
We live in a society where many times people only want to hear certain parts of the Gospel. I believe God uses hard times in our lives to see who the true followers of Christ are. The Lord is testing us to see if we really have treasures stored in heaven, or earthly things that will fade away. As Malachi 3:2-5 says, “But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.”
Another good scripture that talks about the refiner’s fire is found in in Zechariah 13:8-9 where the Lord describes what will happen to the inhabitants of Jersalum when a fountain is opened to the house of David on the day of His coming: “’In the whole land,’ declares the Lord, ‘two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”
Will you be part of the one-third of the land that makes it through the fire? Right now, can you say, “The Lord is my God?” If it came time to give an account for how you lived your life, would He call you part of His people? Look at the story of Job. Satan tried to get him to curse God and he still praised Him. In Job 1:21-22, he said, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
If I wanted to, I could curse God because I have cerebral palsy, but then I’d be real miserable and hard to be around. Instead, like Job, I choose to praise Him because He pulled me through my birth. I praise God because I’m high functioning and am able to help others. My disability allows me to share the Gospel in a very different way. I’ve been teaching the Awana program at my church for 18 years. Many times, people have come to me and said, “Thank you for being my leader.” When I did my faith healing lesson last year, the fact that I shared life experiences from my wheelchair meant a lot to one girl at my table. I could share the Gospel without my disability, but would it have the same impact on people? Would I focus and be able to memorize Bible verses so well? Probably not.
When I’m at the hospital, it’s not uncommon for me to be in a room for a while. One time I talked to a patient in rehab who was new to being paralyzed and now he was going to be in a wheelchair the rest of his life. We talked for two hours. People talk to me because they can see I can relate to their hardship. The fact that I’m in my wheelchair often opens the door for deep and meaningful conversations that might not happen otherwise. When I feel the Lord nudging me, I’ve even prayed for some patients right there in the room when they’ve said it’s okay. They’ve really appreciated it. People often say, “Thanks for coming by.”
Next time you’re going through a trial, instead of trying to get rid of the pain disappointment, etc., ask yourself, “How can I use this to glorify God, my Creator?” How could this help advance Christ’s kingdom?”
Just like the Lord says in Isaiah 48:9-11: “For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to destroy you completely. See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.”
When I go through trials, help me to remember that it’s only to make me pure and holy, and bring honor to your name. You’re refining my character so I come out shining pure as gold. I look forward to the day when I’m as golden as I can be. The day when I get to heaven and you say, “Well done my good and faithful servant. You are one of my people. Welcome home.” In the meantime, help me be like Job and say, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”
I do not own any rights to the video. I love how it shows the process of making gold. Please watch until the very end.
Diaz, K. (2011, December 26). Refiners Fire, Brian Doerksen. Retrieved December 16, 2018, from