We often talk of our less than ideal circumstances as divinely appointed or allowed crucibles. Situations where the heat is turned up so that the impurities might be burned off. Times that test our faith and in so doing expose thoughts, attitudes, and actions unbecoming those who name Christ as Lord. Where, beyond reacting to the latest curve ball thrown at us, we are also repenting of the latest less than godly “swing and a miss” at dealing with that curve ball. Where our jar-of-clay-ness is once again made evident and we find ourselves falling before the throne of grace in need of His forgiveness and His fortification. Experiences endured that God might continue to form within us the image and nature of His Son.
And from time to time, if but for a brief respite, we walk out of the fiery furnace of our trial and realize that it’s working. While we’re not there yet, we’re not where we were. Certainly not perfect, but evidence that shows we really are a work that’s making progress. Nothing to boast in, no merit to claim, but signs that our holy determination to try to walk in the Spirit, and be led by the Spirit, and live by the Spirit is, in fact, bearing something of the fruit of the Spirit. Our lives are tried, and He is glorified.
But this morning, and I may not be reading this exactly as intended, the Spirit illumines the fact that the Word of God is also tried.
Your promise is well tried, and Your servant loves it.
(Psalm 119:140 ESV)
The promises of God are also smelted or refined. They are also subject to the intense heat of trial and testing. They are no stranger to the crucible, not unfamiliar with the fiery furnace. But not for the purposes of cleaning them up or driving out any flaws or impurities. Instead, the promises of God are subjected to the heat that they might be tested and proved to be pure. That they might be shown to be that which, far from being burned up, withstands the heat of all life’s troubles and afflictions.
The Word of God is not intended to sit on the shelf. Most of us know that. But nor is it only intended to be pulled out for morning devo’s or mid-week Bible studies or Sunday sermons. Rather, His testimonies, His statutes, His commandments, and His promises are intended to accompany the child of God into the crucibles of real life. They can stand the heat. And only as we purposefully include the Word as part of our “survival kits” during calamity, only as we cling to it as an anchor during the storm, only as we apply it as a balm for our wounds, do we try and test the promises of God and find that they are gold–that they are true and endure.
I never really would have known experimentally the peace that passes all understanding, if I hadn’t believed the Word when it said such peace could be experienced. Wouldn’t have confirmed the veracity that His grace is sufficient, or that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, or that He won’t allow us to be tempted or tested beyond what we’re able, if I hadn’t continued to “taste and see that the Lord is good” during my temptation and testing.
The songwriter-servant could proclaim, “I love Your promises” not only because by nature they were without blemish, but also because in everyday life they had been tested in the context of his testing and were found to pure and as resilient as gold.
The Word of God . . . not just a book for the shelf, or for the morning closet, or for the Sunday pew. But a book to be taken with us into the fire. A book to be well tried.
Promises for the present. A living and active Word for those who are living and active.
Reminding of His grace. With us in our testing for His glory.