Along with the {un}happy Meal discussion on Monday, I shared some words from a letter to a friend that I hoped would be an encouragement to some of you as well. There were a few more words I thought worth posting here. (Hope you think so, too!) The letter continued:

God allows these bad things to happen in our lives for more than one reason. One reason is the freedom of choice we’ve already talked about. Another is that these hard times draw us closer to Him. So He might allow you to go through a rough time, because He cares more about you learning to walk in relationship with Him than He cares about your happiness. He cares more about our holiness than our happiness. And sometimes the best way to get us to draw close to Him, the best place for gold to be refined, is in the fire.

You are gold in the fire right now. It is hot in the fire. It is hard to be in the fire. But if you stay in, you will be better on the other side. Do you know why? Because when gold gets hot enough, the dirt and impurities in it rise to the surface. Then the Refiner can remove the dirt and impurities off the top, and the gold that is left behind will be better — more pure and more valuable.

But the decision to stay in the fire is really up to you. You can decide not to believe in God’s goodness anymore. You can choose to walk away from Christianity altogether. Your walk with God can become a hollow shell without a real relationship inside — you can go through the motions of going to church, but inside you don’t believe any of it, and it doesn’t change who you are.

But if you stay in the fire, if you let God meet you in the fire, you will come out so much stronger. God can use every single bad thing that happens in our lives for good IF we love Him and are called according to His purposes. (Romans 8:28)

I wish I had a magic wand to whisk away all your troubles and rewind the tape to before all this stuff happened. But we have to look forward from here. And God has a plan for you — it is a GOOD plan which is for hope and for your encouragement in the days to come. But you have to trust Him — you have to believe you’ll see His goodness in order to find it. […]

During my days in the pawn shop, I’d sometimes watch the gentleman who did the jewelry repairs at work. With his tiny blow torch and other little tools and gadgets, he’d heat the gold up to such hot temperatures the colour changed and it was a dark and completely liquid, swirly puddle. He’d then be able to mould the gold so that a broken ring was a perfect circle again, a new clasp safely closed an old chain, or a new setting was set in place to hold a diamond securely. Liquid gold has a lot of potential, and while solid gold has its beauty and its uses, gold in its liquid state has the potential for many more.

When it comes to the refining of gold, its interesting to remember that gold that is more pure, gold that has been more thoroughly refined (18 carat or 24 carat, for example) will be softer and more malleable than 14 carat. The purer the gold, the softer it becomes, as impurities and other alloys are removed. That purer gold has a higher value per ounce. It is more of the element it is supposed to be, and less of the other elements that sometimes get mixed in.

I wonder if you might feel like gold in the fire right now. Your work circumstances, family troubles, your marriage, or life in general might be making you feel like God has turned up the heat. You may be looking for the nearest exit to escape your problems and avoid having to journey on with things as they are at present.

But our all-sufficient God, with goodness and grace overflowing, can enable you to endure the fire. Though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He is with you. His rod and His staff with comfort you. He will restore your soul.

Do you trust Him enough to stay in the fire if it’s where He wants you?