“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Olives, tea bags, and diamonds--whatever do they have in common? Think about that for a minute, and I’ll bet you’ll figure it out!
To most, olives are delicious, but possibly used even more widely is that product derived from olives—olive oil. The oil, used for many things (medicines, cosmetics, soaps) is especially great for cooking as it contains many health benefits, such as good fats and antioxidants. However, to get that precious oil, olives must be ground, crushed, pressed, and decanted.1
We can smell the tea leaf, and it does have some aroma; but to make it really aromatic and useful, it must be placed in boiling water. It is that process which brings out the marvelous flavors and in some instances health benefits. Visualize yourself at your kitchen table, smelling your tea as it brews, then taste as you drink: peppermint, lemon, jasmine, spice, licorice, etc. So good…so uplifting…so healing!
Then there are diamonds—so treasured by the world. Who would have thought that once they were mere lumps of coal until they were placed under intense heat and pressure; some beauties form in mere months, while others take many years.
You get it now, don’t you? Olives, tea, diamonds—all must be pressed in one way or another to produce an even greater product. The same is true for you and me; when we are pressed, we can become ever better...ever purer… and more useful in God’s kingdom!
Though our God is a God of life, light, and love, our enemy is not! Therefore, living in a fallen world, we not only will experience beautiful moments, but also trying, difficult, and often painful times. Satan would use those for our downfall—for doubting our good and gracious Father—yet our Father would turn those times of pressure around 180 degrees so that they would end up refining us; we may be hard pressed, but we are not destroyed!
When we allow God to work within us, our tough times can cause us to become better people--people who understand and empathize with others in their suffering; then we can serve those who need us and help them through their times of sadness, grief, and despair. In so doing, we become strong servants of Christ, and we glorify our magnificent God.
How does our refining take place? How can the bad in our lives be turned to good? It all depends on our response to those testing times we face. Will we respond in bitterness and despair, turning away from God; or will we, in faith, trust Him to lead us through the valley of the shadow of death to His merciful peace and comfort? Will we trust in Him to accomplish His will for our lives, no matter what that may be? If we are willing to do this, whether it takes months or years, as in the case of diamonds, we will be refined; our lives will emerge from boiling waters to become testimonies to our faithful and loving God who is with us at all times, changing our weakness to strength and the ordinary into the extraordinary.
2 Peter 1:2 “May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.”
Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?”
Psalm 71:5 “O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood.”
Deuteronomy 31:7-8 “Then Moses called for Joshua, and as all Israel watched, he said to him, “Be strong and courageous! For you will lead these people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors He would give them. You are the one who will divide it among them as their grants of land. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Joshua 1:9 “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, as I pray to You this morning, I would ask You to forgive me all my sins and listen to my entreaty: help me face and endure any refining You know is required in my life to become the woman you mean me to be. Let my faith and trust in You ever prevail, and therefore let my every response to You be, “Yes, LORD,” no matter the circumstance. Then use me, Lord, to serve others as they endure hardships.
LORD GOD, truly, You are a promise keeper, and You have promised to be with me through all times, the good and the bad. Thank you for Your incomprehensible care and agape love for me!
SONG: “Make Me a Servant”
Make me a servant
Humble and meek
Lord let me lift up
Those who are weak
And may the prayer
Of my heart always be
Make me a servant
Make me a servant
Make me a servant today
DISCLAIMER: I am just an ordinary woman who loves Jesus, accepting Him as Savior at the age of thirty-two and digging into the Bible ever since. How could I possibly hope to develop a heart relationship with God and trust Him with my life if I didn't know who He is?!
These devotionals are written to help you journey with Christ and grow in your heart relationship with Him. However, it is essential that you examine my words, and those of all other "teachers," with God's Holy Word. Therein lies the source of all truth!
Candice Mary Thomas writes about loving God and loving people! Coming to Christ at age 32 and now in her 70's, Candice knows what a difference it makes living with or without Christ as one's personal Savior.