Most Christians are familiar with the concept of God as potter or blacksmith, shaping the raw material of humanity through affliction. And we generally accept that God’s goal is not our temporal torture but our eternal beauty, the glory which will shine when we emerge from the fire. Though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7.
But my acceptance of that idea is a long way from willing participation – and even farther from appreciation. I mostly clench my fists and squeeze my eyes tight shut, crying, “How long, O Lord?” Hurry this process! Let the painful time of preparation be finished so that I can bring you all that glory. As though the process itself was of no value. As though the cross could be hurried.
If you’ve ever watched an artist blowing liquid glass, you know there is beauty throughout the transformation. The potter models his turning clay with tactile pleasure. The master builder takes pride in laying each stone. The gardener thrills at young shoots pushing through black earth. And the blacksmith derives more satisfaction from the making of a tool than from its use. Every day God shapes my soul is a day He is exalted as Creator. Every day I grow a little more like Christ is a day of God’s delight. I think someday I will be sad that I missed so much of His genius because I had my eyes squinched tight, waiting for Him to finish.
And may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:21