On the Anvil

by Jan Silvious

The older I get, the more I realize that there is no end to the ordeals each of us has to face. Sometimes these painful trials come at the hand of someone we love.

Asking why is a normal reaction to being hurt or betrayed. And although we might be tempted to say, "This is the last thing on earth I ever expected," God says, "Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed" (1 Pet. 4:12-13).

In an article entitled "When You Hurt," by an unknown author, I found these words that seem to interpret that passage for contemporary Christians:

"What has happened to you is a very common ailment among mankind. Your situation is not unique at all. It is the way of human nature. Whether you were right or wrong means absolutely nothing at this point. All that matters now is your willingness to move on in God and trust His mysterious workings in your life."

It is the mysterious workings of God in our lives-the hurt and loneliness themselves-that may someday be recognized as the tools God has used to shape character and insight in us. During these painful times of disbelief, God often does His anvil work in our lives.

One of my favorite authors, Max Lucado, writes these words about anvil time:

"Anvil time is not to be avoided; it's to be experienced. Although the tunnel is dark, it does go through the mountain. Anvil time reminds us of who we are and of who God is. We should not try to escape it. To escape it could be to escape God.

"God sees our lives from beginning to end. He may lead us through a storm at age thirty so we can endure a hurricane at age sixty. An instrument is useful only if it's in the right shape. A dull ax or a bent screw driver needs attention, and so do we. A good blacksmith keeps his tools in shape. So does God.

"Should God place you on his anvil, be thankful. It means he thinks you're still worth reshaping." (From On The Anvil, Tyndale House, 1985.)

I talked with a woman who had been deserted by her husband and was on her way to another state to be with her son, on trial for armed robbery. With the sweetest expression in her eyes, she said, "I would not want to go through all of this again, but I really don't regret it because God has been so near and so dear. I have learned to love Him in a way I've never known."

I don't know what you are going through today, but I would encourage you not to try to figure out the whys but simply to thank God that He sees you as still useful…and that He has a purpose for your time on the anvil.

from The 5-Minute Devotional, Zondervan, © 1991 Jan Silvious