Today's Devotional Thought:
James 1:2-4, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
Geologist Dr. James Clark recounts visiting the Soviet Union a few years after Communism dissolved. He was asked to preach at a small Russian Baptist church that lived through a long season of persecution. Some in the congregation had been in prison because of their testimony in Christ.
Others had husbands or relatives that had suffered or had even been killed for their faith. Dr. Clark decided to use the following geological illustration:
Clay is actually composed of many microscopic clay mineral crystals, which not even a light microscope can see. But under pressure the clay minerals are not crushed or made smaller. Rather, they grow larger. The minerals change into new larger biotype grains forming slate, found on many homes. With even more pressure, the minerals become even larger. And some are transformed into garnets, which are semi-precious gems.
I explained to the congregation that this geological process illustrates how pressure and suffering can be used to refine, purify, and mold a person into a more beautiful soul. I will never forget what I saw when I looked at the congregation. It seemed like the whole congregation was sparkling. The babushkas' (old women) eyes were gleaming bright with tears recalling past suffering. What makes a gem so attractive? It's the reflection. And these dear women and men were reflecting God's glory through the suffering they had endured.
The metamorphic rock story doesn't end there. With even more pressure applied, a new mineral forms called staurolite (see picture). The name is from two Greek words meaning "stone cross." The twin variety forms deep under high mountains in the shape of a cross. A reminder of Christ's ultimate suffering for us all. [Adapted from Dr. James Clark, "Dr. James Clark Speaks on Metamorphic Rocks," You Tube (12-2-10)]
When it comes to your suffering no one can answer why. Whatever trial you face no trite answer will make it easier. But you are not alone. God will go with you and as He does He can use your suffering to make you into a beautiful soul. How do I know? Because of the cross. When God says, "I understand your pain," you can know He does. When He says, "I can turn ashes into beauty," you can turn to the cross and know it's true. He already has and He will do it for you too.
Prayer: Father, we thank You that You loved us and love us even now when we suffer. We thank You for the hope that You can work even our suffering into something beautiful. If we must face it we will and can if we have You. Will You go with us along this road? Will You carry us when we are too weak to stand? Will You turn our tears to laughter and our mourning to joy? We know You can and have the hope You will. In Jesus name, amen.