The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Does God encourage us when we’re going through refinement?

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Spiritual refinement serves many purposes, but one of the primary goals is to deepen our trust in God.  For trust to grow strong, it must learn to hold its ground in the face of countering sensual feedback and upsetting circumstances.  This is where spiritual valleys or deserts come in.  During these periods, God intentionally puts us through experiences in which we feel bombarded with “evidence” that He doesn’t care about us and isn’t with us.   He then teaches us how to exercise trust in His goodness in the midst of these things, and the end result is that we find ourselves exponentially closer to Him when the refinement period is over.

Now there is a very delicate balance that must be achieved for this to work.  Every soul has different resources and they can’t all take the same kind of stress.  We discuss this principle in Understanding Refinement: Why God is Brutalizing You.  Only God knows how hard we can be pushed without being utterly crushed.  Often His idea of what we can take seems much greater than what we think we can handle.  But since this is a period in which we are learning how to deal with being bombarded with negative feedback about our standing with God, we aren’t going to find ourselves basking in encouragement.  Too much encouragement in this period defeats the purpose.  It’s like pouring cold water into a pot of boiling water.  If you need to keep the water boiling in order to achieve your end goal, then there is a limit to how much cold water you can add without sabotaging the whole project.

Now this isn’t to say that God doesn’t encourage us in refinement periods.  He certainly does, but from where we are sitting, that encouragement is very insufficient.  When we are desperate for sensual confirmation that God feels positively towards us, we tend to fixate on that form of encouragement as being the only kind we care about, then we get resentful when God gives us other kinds instead.  Consider how unappreciative you are of some blessing when you’re in a really bad mood.  Perhaps someone brings you a nice present.  On a good day, you’d really feel pleased by their gesture.  But if you’re feeling down enough, your reaction to their kindness is going to be a flat, “Whatever.”  This is how we react to God’s blessings in refinement periods.  An outsider could look at our lives and point out many ways God is helping us, but we’d say all those things are trivial because we’re so focused on how down we are in our relationship with Him.

For more about refinement:
The Purpose of Spiritual Deserts
Understanding Refinement: Why is God being so mean?
The Horrors of Spiritual Refinement: When God Won’t Stop Hurting You
Anticipating Refinement

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