When it comes to how God deals with his people many Christians are just clueless. They have been led to believe that God only works in their lives through pleasantries and warm fuzzy feelings. Here is a list of reasons why God chooses to bring unpleasant circumstances in the lives of his people, or at least to allow such circumstances.
1. To transform the believer into the image of Jesus Christ
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
The word “to transform”, from the Greek metamorphose, means a complete change from one form to another. It is the root of the scientific word used to describe the process of transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. This process takes time and expends energy. The caterpillar changes from one form to another that is completely different.
The Christian also needs to go through a metamorphosis each day, the Christian that follows the Lord and responds positively will see his nature restored and transformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
2. To eliminate all impurity
God wants to make us pure. He is constantly leading His people into the fire of His discipline. All throughout the world, there is a lot of pressure and heat in the lives of the people of God. God sends this heat to purge His people. The word “to purge” means to refine, make pure, change by heat.
God prepares His people so that He can use them just as an ironsmith prepares metal for the mold. The heat of the furnace brings all of the impurities and inferior materials to the surface so that the ironsmith can draw them off the surface and throw them out. The dross, the part that has no use, is then separated and thrown out. God in these days is removing all the excess and dross from His leaders. He desires the development of character in all of His leaders (Isaiah 1:22-25; Ezekiel 22:18, 19; Matthew 3:12; 2 Timothy 2:21).
3. To wash our garments
Fullers were artisans that cleaned the fibers of cloth, so that the fabric could become a beautiful garment. Frequently the artisan would establish his business close to a stream or river and after washing the fabric several times, he would spread them out on flat rocks. Next, he would beat the fabrics with a wooden club. This club was heavy and had metal spikes that helped extract the dirt from the fabric. As the Fuller would beat the fabric, all of the fragments of dirt and impurities would rise to the surface and the current of the stream would wash them away. Through this process, the fabric was cleaned. After the cleaning, the fabric was ready for the weavers to transform it into a magnificent garment.
According to Malachi, Jesus is like “a refiner’s fire and a launderers’ soap.” (Malachi 3:2) and He knows how to strike us without causing us harm. God has a club that he uses to extract all impurities from the life of the Christian. God does not use the club just to show His power but uses it to purify the garments of His children.
4. To produce fruit in our lives
In John 15, we have the parable of the vine and the branches. The husbandman that prunes the vine must sometimes use pruning shears. The dead branches must be cut in a way as to not extract the sap necessary for the living branches. The branches that do not give fruit are cut off and thrown away. The branches that produce fruit are pruned so that they yield more fruit. God will prune, purge, refine and cut the branches that give fruit so that they produce more fruit. The purpose of God is always positive and redemptive. Those who desire more fruit will be pruned the most.
5. To prepare the vessels to serve him
Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. (2 Timothy 2:19, 20)
From the minute that the potter forms a vessel from clay until the minute that he takes it out of the oven, he submits it to a rigorous process of beating and pounding. The application of the hands of the Potter over the vessel is sometimes hard and firm. The wheel in the hands of the Potter and the oven are vital parts in the preparation of the vessel. The purpose of God in this situation is to have the vessel for His honor (Jeremiah 17:1-10).
The Scriptures indicate that Judas, the fallen apostle and traitor of Jesus Christ, hung himself in a potter’s field (Matthew 27:1-10). In this field, they found a rejected, corrupted and mutilated human vessel, a vessel of dishonor, like so many others.
6. To bring growth into our lives
The prophet Isaiah proclaimed: “enlarge the place of your tent” (Isaiah 54:2). Figuratively this means that God wants to increase the capacity of those who are preparing themselves to be leaders in His house, so that they may receive more of the Lord. David declared that the Lord can enlarge the steps of leaders (2 Samuel 22:37). Again, Isaiah said that a person could enlarge his heart so that his spiritual deposit could also increase (Isaiah 60:5).
The purpose of the discipline of God is to enlarge us in many ways. God desires to increase our ministry and our function in His house, just as He does in our character.
God wants to expand specific areas of our lives. He wants to enlarge our vision (1 Chronicles 4:10), our steps (2 Samuel 22:37), our heart (Isaiah 60:5), our boundaries (Exodus 34:24), our strength (1 Samuel 2:1), our abode (Ezekiel 41:7; Proverbs 24:3, four; Isaiah 54:2), and our ministry (2 Corinthians 6:11; 13; 2 Corinthians 10:15, 16).
7. To lead us into an intense search for Him
The Lord will bring pressure and heat in the lives of His leaders at specific times to motivate them to seek Him more. The purpose of the pressure is not to scare them away from Him, but to lead them in His direction. Frequently, leaders in preparation misinterpret difficult times and circumstances. All of these tests are to motivate man to seek God as his only source of strength. A leader must learn to seek God in difficult times so that he can help others to do the same. Jesus learned through what he suffered. This experience enables us to lead others.
8. God wants more of His spirit flowing through our lives
The Scriptures represent wine as an indication of the spirit of joy (Matthew 9:17, Acts 2:13- 16: Ephesians 5:18). Harvest time was a time of joy for the people. After a long period of waiting, finally harvest time would arrive. During this time the whole family would work together to reap the harvest.
The women and children would put the harvested grapes in baskets and carry them on their heads. Then they would take them to large stone wine presses were barefooted workers would begin the process of extraction of the grape juice by treading on the grapes. While they treaded out the grapes, they would hold onto a wooden beam connected to a shaft in the center of the wine vat. The major part of their weight rested on this beam so as not to step on the grapes with excessive force. If they trampled the grapes too severely, they would also crush the seeds and the wine would become bitter and would only be useful to give to animals.
There is a marvelous application here. God is the one treading out the winepress, and we are the grapes. His desire is that the wine of His Spirit flows from our lives and ministries. He steps on us, treading us out like grapes. This is a difficult and painful process, but God will never crush our spirits (the seed of the grape), because if He did then we would become bitter. A bitter spirit is no good to anyone. God does not want bitter leaders. He wants the new and fresh wine of His Spirit to flow through our lives.
9. God wants to give us a new vision
The apostle Paul focuses on this reality in his second letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). All of the pressure, affliction and tests that come upon us now, serve eternal purposes. We should not look only at the present, analyzing the moment. We need to face the future, thinking of the eternal fruit that will be reproduced in us and through us in the life of others. Gifts are given, but character is developed. Character has eternal value and will remain with us for eternity (1 Corinthians 13:8; 13).