But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. But while the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city. The next day he went away with Barnabas to Derbe. After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:19-22 NASB95
Godly people WILL have trials. It is not optional! God promises that His people will be a tested and tried people. We are forged into spiritual warriors in the furnace of affliction instead of being pampered with peace and pleasure. Jesus said that as long as we are in this world, we will have troubles.
I know what some of you are thinking: “Pastor, I don’t like what you have written and now you’re making me depressed.” If that’s your line of thought, you are missing the point. Don’t misunderstand me—I don’t go out of my way to find trials because I enjoy them. But, when those tribulations come, I know that God has turned up the furnace’s heat because He is doing some refining and purifying of my faith.
Can you name one great man or woman of faith in the Bible who didn’t find themselves broken by hard times? You know the answer. There isn’t one. Do I possess a faith stronger than Job? David? Abraham? Noah? Elijah? Jeremiah? Peter? Paul? John? What makes me think that I shouldn’t have seasons of testing like those fellows?
Yes, if those great men of faith went through the fire, surely I will find myself sweating at times in my life too. Mother Theresa once said, “God will never give you more than you can handle, but there are times I wish He didn’t trust me so much!” While that quote is humorous, it is wrong. In fact, God often gives us MORE than we can handle! It is that moment of being so burdened that you break that your faith finds its legs and stands. You learn that God is real and He keeps His promises. Your faith grows. The metal of your character becomes more refined and the steel of faith is strengthened.
From ancient times, those who made useful tools from forged metal have left a personalized mark in the metal. For example, look at a quality knife or a gun and you will see the manufacturer’s mark imprinted in the metal. God leaves his mark on you after the forging in the furnace of trials so that others will know Who made you into a person of great faith!