COMING FORTH AS GOLD
Have you ever really delved into the reasoning behind the exhortations in Scripture to rejoice greatly when you face all kinds of trials? There is a little known secret that only those whose faith has been tested through great suffering know. By pressing into God during these times they have obtained an intimate knowledge of him along their journey. This truth is an experiential truth of God becoming their refuge, their strength and their very next breath. In their deepest trials they turned towards God and cried out to him night and day as if their life depended on it. They persevered day after day, pressing into the lover of their soul and in the process they were transformed from one degree of glory to the next. When circumstances shout that God is not good, that he caused or allowed this great suffering, the faithful bend the knee in worship and declare, “though you slay me, yet I will praise you.”
Over time, the image of God transforms their souls as they press hard into his presence. Their strength is renewed and they gain an intimate knowledge of God that they would not have had unless they had learned to wait upon the Lord. Their faith, though tested through the trials of suffering, is refined by fire as precious metal is refined through the furnace of intense heat. Faith comes through that process as a precious metal or a gem, but is of far greater worth than either gold or gems! Having experienced a season of suffering and come through to victory, they have secured a joy that is unstoppable. They were obtaining the goal of their faith: intimate knowledge of God and a hope that is eternal, incorruptible, safe and secure. And that hope does not disappoint as God’s love, having sustained the faithful one, is now shed abroad in their heart (Romans 5:5). Now, when new trials arise, they endure for they know the joy set before them and are filled with inexpressible joy even before they see the victory.
Yes, there is a greater union with the Spirit of the living God who dwells within us. During times of great trial we are set apart and enter into that dimension of the heavenly Holy of Holies. It may feel very lonely and that is because – in the natural – it is lonely. But in the Spirit, we are aware of the great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) who are cheering us on. Best of all, the Comforter was sent into the world so that we would never be left as orphans (John 14:16-18). He shares in our pain and is the guarantee of victory. He is working night and day to sustain our soul in order that we might come through with power. Even Yeshua went through a season of testing before being launched into his earthly ministry. At the end of the dark tunnels is advancement and authority. Having been perfected through the season of sorrow we can come out with joy knowing that through our life, many will be blessed with the lessons we have learned. Transformation takes place. Fruit bearing branches are pruned so that they can bear more fruit. We can rejoice, because greater fruit is coming. Therefore, we do not lose hope though inwardly it feels like we are wasting away. We survive by focusing on the unseen and by continuing to press through the veil into that Secret Place. Our worst of times can be changed into our best of times! Inexpressible joy can be ours before our circumstances change, or before we see Him come with the answers.
And such is the victory woven into the lives of Eddie and Jackie Santoro through the trials of adversity. Many have eulogized Eddie, as indeed they should, for he was known for his overflowing love. And that love became more pure and aflame as a result of trusting God in the midst of the mystery of promise and fulfillment. But I want to commend Jackie because she stood by his side every step of the way and did not waver. Against all hope, in hope she believed and continued to absorb the grace of God for her very next breath. Never once did I hear her complain. In fact, she radiated a joy that was incomprehensible. Yes, there will be days ahead of her where the depth of loss will be felt but even in this furnace I know that she will shine ever brighter as a witness to the glory of God. Love truly is being shed abroad in her heart even in the midst of intense pain. Their heart cry was that God would receive glory whether Eddie remained here or left to be with the Lord. Each step in their journey they did exactly that. Through Eddie’s and Jackie’s courage I have gained courage to face Dan’s and my own mortality and am confident that the same God who dwells in them and amongst them will give us strength to walk through our own eventual death. None of us like to talk about it but we will eventually all have to face it. In the meantime, I want to fully live to glorify God and celebrate that death has been swallowed up in victory!