"You may for a short time have to bear . . . trials, so that when Jesus Christ is revealed, your faith will have been tested and proved like gold--only it is more precious than gold . . ." - I Peter 1: 6
Real gold, says Peter, takes time to be revealed. Time and trial.
I don't think that everything that is difficult in life is a test or trial arranged by God so that we can prove our mettle. But I do think that there's no escaping hard stuff and that it can, at least at times, teach us what matters--and what doesn't.
Even better, the hard times can work a kind of refinement, a burning away of the dross in us. It's not our job, of course, to say to someone else who is going through a hard time, "Well, this is for your own good. It will make you stronger."
But it is right for us to consider our own times of trial and testing and to wonder, "What is God asking of me here? What of me, Holy One, needs to be burned away in this experience? And what of me needs to be strengthened and preserved? Help me know the difference."
A culture that worships youth, celebrity, speed and image often mistakes fool's gold for real gold. Some of the most wonderful people I know are older people who have gone through deep trials. It is like life has refined them into someone real and strong, even as their natural strength declines. While we in the church have our share of fool's gold, the church is where I've encountered a lot of real gold.
When times of trial come, help me Lord to learn what it is you would have me learn. And help me to learn from those who have been through testing and have been proven real. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul’s Letters to Timothy for a New Day. You can read Tony's "Weekly Meditation" and "What's Tony Thinking?" at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.