Coming Forth As Gold

A few days ago, I prayed through James 1:2-3 and was intrigued by the additional possible meanings of each Word recorded in an online Bible lexicon (sources: https://biblehub.com/lexicon/james/1-2.htm, https://biblehub.com/lexicon/james/1-3.htm): 

“Let your leading thought (consider), one piece at a time (all), be an awareness of God’s grace (joy), when you are totally surrounded (encounter) by many colored (various) testings (trials), coming to know through personal experience (knowing) that the being found genuine (testing) of God’s persuasion in you (faith) brings to a decisive conclusion (produces) your by God-enabled remaining under the challenges allotted (endurance).”

What continually strikes me, each day I sit to pray through Scripture and look up the Words in the online Bible lexicon, is how the translations we have chosen focus so much on human effort, when the underlying meaning of the Words I look up always emphasize God’s doing for us and His proving of Himself in us, for us and through us.

This morning, I found my faith failing me. I felt depressed, hemmed in on every side by trials that just proved my weakness, my inability to press through and make things happen that are beyond my control. I felt like giving up, but also heard that little still Voice inside me calling me to come rest with Him.

So, I lay down in bed for an hour to give my physical and spiritual heart rest. I woke to find this verse in my inbox:

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” MATTHEW 7:13-14 NIV

I suddenly remembered the verse I had been praying a few days earlier in James (1:2-3) and found my heart rejoicing, realizing this narrow way I was being pressed into was God’s Way for me and He was inviting me to let go of my faith in myself and my ability, to rest in His. So, I grabbed my bike, with my husband’s and children’s blessing, to head to the forest nearby.

I trusted God to help me through the incessant chest pain and pressure and shortness of breath I have been experiencing daily since a bike ride on Monday. Feeling abandoned by medical professionals who I have trusted to help me, God helped me remember this isn’t His abandonment of me and that my desire to come away with Him to pray, was His desire for me too.

As I biked, the Words “come forth as gold” came to my mind. Turns out they are words spoken by Job as he too was hemmed in on every side by painful trials of physical and emotional affliction. As those around him, rather than helping him, were making things worse, even telling him he must have brought all the calamity upon himself, Job cried out (Job 23:10 KJV):

But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

As I looked up the Word “know”, I again discovered the Word “yada”- to know one another as Adam knew Eve, conceiving a child from that intimate union. And the Word “gold” could also mean “oil”. Does it remind you of what it reminded me too?

And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves. Matthew 25:8-10 ESV

So, these trials that are burning away my faith in my own ability to stand by faith are in fact bringing forth oil: God’s Holy Spirit power for me and in me, as He calls me into knowing Him more and more intimately.

When I wanted to give up as my weakness and inability was exposed, the Father’s still small Voice called me:

“Come away with Me, Anna, and let Me prove My ability and power for you and to you. Let me show you the truth of My Promise to you through my beloved Peter:

1 Peter 1:6-7 HCSB
You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Yes, YOUR faith perishes through the fire, but that’s only so MY SON’S faith and HIS persuasion of you to believe and trust Me may be revealed in and through you. So that the trust of JESUS may be revealed in you. Rememember what I told you: “There’s life in the womb”.

Oh yes! All those places the way becomes narrow and impossible for us to walk through is where more of Jesus is being birthed in us: His life, His breath, His faith for us. Praise Him!!! He is LORD alone!!

And that reminds me WHO our narrow gate and door truly is – JESUS working in us, for us and through us to lift up our weary and discouraged hearts in praise:

New International Version

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.

New Living Translation

Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.

English Standard Version

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

John 10:9

There are many reasons us humans give for not believing in God, and I face them daily in my own heart also – but now I see that when it comes down to it, all that’s needed is the Spirit’s touch. There’s no reason or logic that can stand against the power of His holy touch upon us …that’s how He brought me, His lost lamb, home too those 8 years ago.

It was walking the hills around Wanaka in New Zealand, looking out onto the glistening lake and surrounded by mountains every side. I felt the power of God descend upon me with such incredible peace, right when my heart was shattered into a thousand pieces, having just heard Mum had two to three months to live. In one moment God cut through all the accusations and lies of my accuser to wrap me in the truth of His love for me.

Gates of Praise
A poem by Anna Louise Smit


I am your light and your salvation
I am your glory within
Call your walls: salvation
Your gates: praise.

I am your glory within
Swing wide you heavenly gates
Your gates: praise
Let the King of Glory come in.

Swing wide you heavenly gates
Return to your fortress, prisoners of hope
Let the King of Glory come in
Light shines in darkness.

Return to your fortress, prisoners of hope
I am a wall of fire around you
Light shines in darkness
I am the Lifter of your head.

I am a wall of fire around you
Call your walls: salvation
I am the lifter of your head
I am your light and your salvation.



Psalm 24: 9 (ESV)

Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.


1 Chronicles 16:28 (ESV)

Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!


Psalm 22:3 (ESV)

Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.


Isaiah 60:18 (ESV)

Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.


Zechariah 9:12 (ESV)

Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.


Isaiah 62:1 (ESV)

For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,

and for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet,

until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,

and her salvation as a burning torch.


John 1:14 (ESV)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.


2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (MSG)

6 It started when God said, "Light up the darkness!" and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful. 7 If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's incomparable power with us.

Part 3: Chapter 3 – Day 1: He Gives Us More Grace

Welcome to Day 1 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a free will offering in praise of God opening her eyes to see by faith. By God’s grace, her eyes open to the Promise contained in the budding of her almond tree, in the midst of great pain and affliction. She also invites us to join her in a time of thanksgiving and prayer.

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness.”

Luke 11:34 NIV 

This branch is from my Flowering Almond bush:

It has had its share of suffering and disease. At one point, several years ago, I considered removing the whole bush because it continued to die back and shed more leaves than what it was gaining. But the patient gardener in me decided to give it another chance, and pruned away the dead branches one more time. I would have missed out on these beautiful blooms if I had focused solely on the diseased portion of the plant.

And so it is in my own life. Where are my eyes choosing to focus? Where is the light within them?

This week a friend sent me a song, and because it was a reworking of a hymn that was one of my favorites, I went on a search to find the original. In so doing, as often happens with me, the history of the hymn drew my attention just as much as the song itself. Maybe you have heard of Annie Johnson Flint, poet and hymn writer from the early 1900’s? 

Before this search, I had known she lived a life of suffering, and I had known her beautiful work came from a fountain of grace within her.  What I had not known was that her disease was one with which I am well acquainted:

Rheumatoid Arthritis.

But she suffered in the years when there was no relief for pain, and no medicine to halt the crippling effects. Where I might suffer some pain and weakness, and some residual tendon damage, she suffered the full effects of a horrible disfigurement and pain beyond compare. As the disease progressed, she was forced to type out her poems using only her bent knuckles, because her joints had swollen and twisted to a point of uselessness.

What do I know of that kind of uselessness?

How would I have borne that kind of suffering?

In these days of stillness, as the Lord brings fresh convictions to me daily, I know that my heart has so far yet to travel. For you see, Annie Johnson Flint had let the Lord bring the true Light to her eyes.  When the darkness of a cruel disease could have crippled her heart, she chose to let the Light of Christ permeate her soul and body. She chose to let that Light redeem her suffering, and bring forth encouragement that would bless others who were facing darkness.

She chose 
Acceptance in the 
Pruning from her own 
Master Gardener and embraced 
HIS Light in the very place of her suffering.

“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” Philippians 1:29 NIV 

He Giveth More Grace (lyrics)

—Annie Johnson Flint

“He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater, He sendeth more strength when the labors increase; To added affliction He addeth His mercy; To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace. 

When we have exhausted our store of endurance, When our strength has failed ere the day is half done, When we reach the end of our hoarded resources, Our Father’s full giving is only begun. 

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision, Our God ever yearns His resources to share; Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing; The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limit; His grace has no measure. His pow’r has no boundary known unto men; For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!”

Would you join me in pausing to meditate on the suffering that our Lord bore for us, and join me in prayer?

Dear Lord Jesus,  

I thank you for the suffering that you bore for me. I rejoice in the salvation and grace that you won for me there.

And, now I ask that you would purify my eyes to see the light in my days and the Grace within my own suffering.

May I let you bring Joy from Pain and Beauty from Ashes, And may the Love you have granted sink deep into my soul, body, mind and spirit.

Amen.     

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (ESV) Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

This post was first published four years ago at: https://bettiegsraseasons.com/2017/03/30/he-gives-us-more-grace/ Since then, Bettie’s health has deteriorated significantly and yet the beauty and life of Christ is flourishing in and through her more and more, as she comforts others with the comfort the LORD is pouring out upon her.