For You tested us, O God; You refined us as though refining silver.
In times of trouble, thank, praise, extol, and glorify God. For “in a time of good fortune, enjoy the good fortune; and in a time of misfortune, reflect: the one no less than the other was God’s doing” (Ecclesiastes 7:14).
We must remember that the best of times, the worst of times, and every moment in between all originate from the truest source, our creator and our Father. Each stumbling block has been placed in front of us deliberately in order to encourage us to persevere, and to open our eyes to hidden reserves of strength.
Tests and trials are not intended for God to grow in His understanding of us; He knows us better than we know ourselves. They are designed to awaken us, to test the limitless strength and joy that is found in the deepest part of our souls. The Lord knows that we will never truly live up to our potential unless we are tested and tried, over and over again, in order to recognize within ourselves the eternal power that rests firmly in our grasp, if we only tear away all the cobwebs and shackles of fear, doubt, and mistrust.
It is only when we are completely uncovered, when we are shattered like glass, broken beyond human repair, that God can truly fill us and satiate us completely with His power and His love. The greatest revelation of God lives within the shards. But as long as we cling to the old perspective of the self, as long as we desperately try to pretend that our shattered selves are whole in some form or another, we deny God entrance. He is knocking at our door, but we won’t let Him in. It seems so much safer, so much more comfortable, to keep lying to ourselves.
Yet if we gaze upon the shards of our hearts, and allow ourselves to sincerely uncover the depths of brokenness within, God, the merciful healer, will make us whole. Though we struggle to reach for and collect any fragment of life that will help us nurse our wounds, we will never be able to overcome ourselves as long as we maintain the fabrications we have carefully constructed over the years.
The broken vessel must see its own brokenness and acknowledge it before God. And we must recognize that trials and tribulations are simply another form of God’s love for us. His desire is for us to grow, persevere, strengthen, and discover hidden talents and abilities. Trials and tests enable us to tap into those energies we would not have otherwise accessed. We must be uncovered, broken, open, and bleeding in order for God to pour Himself out into our lives. And then, only then, can all that we do authentically be for the glory of God.
Let us be vulnerable and naked before God, for “naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
Let us be wise, for correction is from God; like a father disciplines his son, so, too, our Father disciplines us. It is not out of anger or hatred; it comes from a place of pure, boundless love. When we face endless obstacles, rejoice, and be glad that God has granted us this. And “do not reject the discipline of the Almighty. He injures, but He binds up; He wounds, but His hands heal” (Job 5:17-18).
For Hashem knows that when a wise man is rebuked, he will grow wiser, and a righteous man will gain in learning when he is taught a lesson (Proverbs 9:9). And those who choose to love God, to sing His praises in the most desperate times of trouble, will recall that He has no plans to harm us, that He wishes to bestow upon us endless blessings of peace and love.
For His thoughts of us are thoughts of peace, and not of evil, and when we earnestly seek Him with all our hearts, His plan is to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11-13).