How the Fire Refines Us: Five Ways to Look at 2020

In this episode:

Very little about this year has been easy. But it can still be good. What if it is all an opportunity to become better people? What if the fire is what refines us? In this episode, I talk through options for how we can respond, and I leave you with a resource about going through trials.

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Inspired Life

I’m going to be a bit reflective here, but I wonder if 2020 could be a collective testing of faith and grit.

The Bible talks in numerous places about placing gold and silver in the fire to burn off impurities. Once it comes out of the fire, what remains is something much more pure. Before I leave 2020 behind, I want to ask if I’m coming out of it a better person, someone more equipped to be like Jesus in the world. I wonder if my faith is stronger and if my compassion is greater. Isaiah 48:10 talks about being tested in the furnace of affliction.

Not one of us is exempt from hardship or trials. Some of you have been tested in that furnace. If this has been a terrible year for you, my heart goes out to you. I can’t know what it is like for each person or know what you’ve all experienced.

I’m patiently waiting for the opportunity to get back to something that feels more normal. I long for those who are lonely to feel fulfilled by friendships. Let’s look at five ways that we can look at this past year, or at any season that brings trials, and then you choose which perspective you want to adopt as you wrap up the year.

Spoiler alert: they aren’t all good options.

Life, Repurposed

  • We could look at the past twelve months as a dumpster fire. We could focus on the horrific loss, the sad separations, and the financial blows. Those are there for sure. And they aren’t going away. But imagine what it would be like if after we come through a fire, we keep talking about the fire and miss the other parts.
  • We could blow up and use our anger to vent our feelings. We could rant on social media, argue with people we love and call them idiots. We could even claim righteous indignation and say we’re entitled to behave that way. Sort of adding fuel to the fire. If this has worked, I’d love to hear from someone who achieved positive results through this method.
  • We can live in denial and pretend that all is well when it isn’t. We could ignore the pain and stuff our emotions and hope it all goes away.
  • We could use our energy and resources to rise up to the challenges of the circumstances. This might border on pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps though. Dig in. Work harder. Be stoic. Press on.

You might have figured out that none of these is an ideal way to deal with a difficult year. So let’s look at another option.

  • We could approach this year with gratitude for God’s presence in the midst of our struggle. With hope for what might come because of what we have learned. With optimism for the future because our character is stronger and our faith too. We can be thankful for where this year showed us our weaknesses and where we needed to come together. We can celebrate how the year forced us to innovate and try new things. Creativity has flourished. We learned how to adapt, make do, and treasure what is really important. It slowed us down and made us pay attention.

With this approach, we can cry out to God, lean on one another and know that there is still beauty in the midst of it.  This is our opportunity to pray more, to be ok with doubt, and to live in the moment trusting that God will uphold us for the next moment.

Very little about this year has been easy. But it can still be good.

“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:7 (NLT)

Recommended Resources

How about you? As you look back, what made you a better human this year?

This week's resource is a just-released book from author Kathy Carlton Willis titled 7 Trials Every Woman Faces: Is Job a Member of My Family Tree?

What makes you realize there were blessings in the trials?

From the back cover:

Struggling with life challenges? You are not alone!

 Ever wish for a friend who really understood you? 7 Trials Every Woman Faces offers a virtual friend to lean on. Author Kathy Carlton Willis comes alongside you as she shares insights learned through her own stinky situations.

All life-trials fit in the same categories as Job’s afflictions (told in the oldest book of the Bible). Whenever Kathy feels like there’s a “kick me” sign on her back, she asks, “Is Job a member of my family tree?” Laughing helps a little.

The chapter segments go along with the family tree theme:

    • Family Album. Snapshots of heartwarming stories from real life.
    • Family Bible. Biblical insights to overcome trials from a godly perspective.
    • Family Recipes. Practical steps to help you grow and succeed God’s way.
    • Family Legacy. Lessons passed along as you help others endure trials.

Learn how to overcome Job-like trials, when: your family lets you down, friends misunderstand you, your health crumbles, your finances plummet, or others question your faith.

Everyone has trials, but it’s the way we deal with hardship that determines not only the outcome but how we cope when we’re smack-dab in the middle of them.

Ideal on your own or with a group.

Tune in to the episode to hear Kathy share a little about the book. Or pick up a copy on Amazon.

Don't forget to listen to episode number 68 to hear about a secret sale that I'm doing on Classic Marriage: Staying in Love as Your Odometer Climbs

I only shared it in the podcast recording, so you'll have to listen to the audio to learn what the special offer is!


(Please note: books posted here on my blog are purely because I want to share them. Sometimes I receive free copies for review, and other times I purchase the books. Some I get from the library. Either way, any endorsement I offer here on the blog is simply because I want to talk about the book. )

Michelle Rayburn is the author of The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure, as well as a small group Bible study to accompany the book. Learn more about these and her other books here. A sample chapter of the book and Bible study are available for free download.

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This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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