How God Prepares His Jewels!
"Look, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have purified you in the furnace of affliction." Isaiah 48:10
One of the many lessons I get from the life of Peter is the value of defeats, humiliations, and trials. None of the disciples had so rough a time, or so many hard knocks, as he had. He was always in trouble. He was always being defeated. None of the disciples received so many stern, humiliating rebukes from the Master's lips as he. Every little while, we find him covered with shame. Then on the night of the betrayal, he was terribly sifted by Satan!
There is a meaning in all this. Diamonds are dug out of the earth in a rough state, with no apparent beauty, and covered with a hard, ugly, crust. They are cut, sawn, split, and put upon the grinding-wheel, and ground, and ground, and ground, until they have the right form, until all the blemishes are ground out, and they shine in beauty fit for a king's crown!
Peter was a diamond, a great Koh-i-noor; but when the Lord found him, he was a very rough diamond, and had to be kept long upon the grinding-wheel, until every speck was ground off. It was through trials, humiliations, and defeats — that he became such a noble Christian. The only way to break down a man's pride, is by defeats and mortifications. The only cure for self-confidence, is the cure Christ applied to him. He let him fall into the mire, and sink into the sea, and let Satan tumble him up and down!
There are some characters that are like summer fruits which ripen early in the season, under the warmth of the sun. But there are few such, except those whom God plucks and gathers, like early summer fruits, in the days of infancy, childhood, and youth.
There are other fruits that ripen not until the sharp autumn frosts come. All through the summer they are sour, bitter, and unfit for food. The keen frosts make them luscious and mellow.
In the same way, there are many of Christ's disciples who bear just such fruits. They are very unripe Christians. They are sharp, acrid men. They are severe, selfish, harsh, bitter, censorious. There is no sweetness, gentleness, kindness in them. They may be good men or women; they are good at heart — but they are not beautiful. People cannot love them — and yet they are God's dear children.
Then the frosts come — sharp, biting frosts. Afflictions enter their homes — sorrows break in upon them. Bereavements turn the green leaves to sere and yellow. Humiliations come. They are defeated and crushed. God allows them to suffer great temptations. And out of these sad and painful experiences, these troubles and trials, these humiliations and failures — they come, like the autumn fruits after the frosts — mellow, luscious, rich, and ripe!
Frost opens the chestnut-burr, and the rich nut rolls out of its prickly envelope. In the same way, sorrows and trials strip off the burrs from many a beautiful soul.
Without these painful processes, many a man would never reach glory.
It was the rough knocks and sorry tumbles of his early discipleship, which made the Peter of the Gospels — the Peter of the Acts and Epistles.
It was scourging, imprisonment, and persecution — which made Paul the brightest jewel of the world.
David learned his psalms in the wilderness, when hunted and chased.
Bereavement, loss, and sore sickness fitted Job to write that wondrous poem which bears his name.
John Bunyan got the "Pilgrim's Progress" out of prison walls, and from the clanking of chains.
It was a good thing that Satan sifted Peter — he winnowed out the chaff, and left only the pure wheat.
Christian! God must . . .
burn out your dross,
winnow out your chaff,
mellow your fruits by sharp frosts, and
grind off the roughness of your character on the wheel of affliction.
Some day, when you get through, and shine in the glory of Heaven — loudest amid your praisings, will be thanksgivings for your trials.
A diamond lay sleeping quietly in its dark bed in the earth. A pick, plunging into its pillow, disturbed its slumber. "What does this mean?" cried the little stone in terror, as it was crudely torn out.
But the workman heeded not its cry. It was carried away into a strange room, and there it was cut and sawn, and then put upon the wheel and ground.
"Why is all this? Why are they destroying me? Why are they cutting and grinding me all away?" Thus groaned the stone, but the men heeded not its complainings.
It is a grand day in the palace — it is a coronation day. The king is to be crowned. Amid the shouts and acclamations of the multitude, the new crown is brought forth and put upon his head. It is all aglitter with diamonds. But there is one stone that is brighter than all the rest. Its beam flashes out like a ray of glory.
"Now I understand it!" says the little stone. "Now I know why I was dug out, and cut, and ground, and polished. They were not destroying me. They were only preparing me to adorn this crown!"
In the same way, God knows how to grind his jewels. He knows how to prepare them for his own eternal crown!
"He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross!" Malachi 3:3
"When He has tried me — I will emerge as pure gold!" Job 23:10