Volume 51 Number 5 May, 2005 – Issue of the Baptist Testimony

From Where I Stand
Maynard H. Belt
MARBC State Representative

Tested By Fire!

We Shouldn’t retreat or lose heart when unexpected things happen to us. Instead, we should submit to the One Who knows best and Who will test our hearts by fire as long as He likes.”  –Chrysostom

It seems as though, over the past several months, I have noticed that there is so much suffering going on, not only in our world, our nation and our community, but also among our friends and our peers in ministry – so many who are being tested by fire. It could be enough to make one depressed if not for the fact, that sufferings can draw us closer to God and that the examination of Scripture reminds us that sufferings are what help mold us into the image of His lovely Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Puritan Joseph Church said that, “Sufferings are but as little chips of the cross.” Our sufferings can never be compared to the One who suffered ALL for us. Sometimes I just sit back and think, “What next, Lord?” But then the blessed Holy Spirit brings to mind, just as Scripture says that He would (John 14:26), that sufferings are just temporal (2 Cor. 4:17); that during such times we should pray (James 5:13); that part of genuine discipleship is suffering (Matt. 16:24, Phil. 1:29); that in the fire we should glorify Him (Isa. 24:15); and most encouraging of all, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18).

John Chrysostom (347-407) has been known to us as one of the early church fathers. Born in Antioch (not Ohio!), he became known as the “Golden Mouth” for his eloquent sermons, many of which led the people of Constantinople, where he had been appointed bishop against his will, through many times of crises. Later he was exiled by the emperor where he died at age 60. In his “Homily on the Paralytic Let Down Through the Roof,” he writes: Refiners throw pieces of gold into the furnace to be tested and purified by the fire. In the same way, God allows human souls to be tested by troubles until they become pure, transparent, and have profited greatly from process. Therefore, this is the greatest advantage we have. So then, we shouldn’t be disturbed or discouraged when trials happen to us. For if refiners know how long to leave a piece of gold in the furnace, and when to draw it out, if they don’t allow it to remain in the fire until it is burnt up and destroyed, how much better does God understand this process! When He sees that we have become purer, He frees us from our trials so that we won’t be cursed and defeated by them. Therefore, we shouldn’t retreat or lose heart when unexpected things happen to us. Instead, we should submit to the One Who knows best and Who will test our hearts by fire as long as He likes. He does this for a reason and for the good of those who are tried.”

It has well been said that saints should fear every sin, but never sufferings! The war going on in our world this very day reminds us that one thing soldiers do is suffer. As soldiers of the cross should we expect any less?

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,

My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;

The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design

Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I AM the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” Isaiah 43:2-3a

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