I don’t know about you, but instinctively, I hate pretty much everything having to do with confrontation. I waste way too much time thinking about exactly what I’m going to say, it emotionally drains me, and sometimes I walk away feeling worse than I did before I started. The only time I somewhat like confrontation is when it enables me and the other person to enter into a deeper relationship with one another.
In the past couple months, I’ve faced one confrontational encounter after another. One that really stands out which it’s sensitive in nature is a confrontation, or rather a series of confrontations, I had with my new wireless phone provider. They made a bunch of promises in order to get me to switch to their service, but after I signed the papers, they haven’t been the least bit concerned about whether they come through on their promises. Since signing up for their service, I’ve talked to about 10 different people in an attempt to try to get everything straightened out. Absolutely ridiculous and completely draining for someone like me who hates confrontation.
If all of my recent confrontational encounters were tied back to one primary aspect of my life, such as my cell phone bill, then I probably wouldn’t have thought about it any deeper. But they’re not. I’m experiencing confrontational encounters in seemingly every area of my life.
When my series of confrontational encounters began, I saw these situations as nothing more than aggravating burdens. I held out hope that the confrontations would end soon and I could go back to living in my non-confrontational comfort zone. But after continuing to see it pop up over and over again, I began wondering if maybe there was something more to it. In the past couple days, I’ve come to recognize that my current situation is a great example of what the biblical writers were referring to when they wrote about fiery trials. I see now that God is testing me. Like a goldsmith, he’s putting me in the fire so that more of my impurities rise to the surface so that he can scrape them off and rid them from my life. I’m now seeing that these trials are not only from God, but they’re a gift he’s given me. How’s that possible?
God’s plan is to transform us completely into his image. If we were given the option to choose how this transformation happens, I think most of us would choose for God to magically bestow this transformation upon. We’d choose to go to bed at night untransformed and wake up the following morning being completely transformed. But for whatever reason, God hasn’t chosen to work that way. Instead, he’s chosen to throw us into the fiery furnace over and over again so that our impurities, which slowly rise to the surface, can be scraped away every time he pulls us back out.
At the present time, I’m not exactly sure what impurities God intends to remove through these confrontational trials. Maybe he’s intending to remove more of my pride. Maybe he’s intending to remove more of my reliance on the affirmation of others to define my value. Maybe he’s intending to deepen some of my relationships. I don’t know.
It can be extremely challenging to accept our trials (not that our rejection or acceptance is going to change God’s mind) when we don’t know God’s intentions through them. If we could see a few years, or even just a few months into the future so that we could see how our situations today will positively impact us in the future, it seems like that would at least make the trials a bit more bearable now. Sometimes God does give me a glimpse into why he’s doing what he’s doing. But right now, I can honestly say that I don’t know his intentions.
Nonetheless, I have no less faith in him and no more anxiety about the situation because of my lack of insider information. I’m 100 percent certain that God is fully in control and trust that his current testing, although painful and difficult to bear at times, is serving to bring glory to his name and transform me more into his image.
I’ll wrap up with a light story. I have to laugh sometimes at God’s incessant humor. Last week when our missional community was gathered together, we were discussing a few chapters from Ecclesiastes and the topic of fiery trials came up. After we all agreed that we’ve noticed God’s transformation the most during our fiery trials, I asked why we don’t ask God for more trials. Seriously, if facing more fiery trials is going to get us closer to reaching our goal of being transformed into his image, then why wouldn’t we want more of them? When I volunteered to close in prayer at the end of our time together, I prayed for God to give us more fiery trials. Look what happened…God answered my prayer! Haha.
Honestly, we shouldn’t be surprised when we’re faced with difficult situations that push us outside of our comfort zones. It’s written all over the Bible that this is going to happen. How are we going to respond? Are we going to respond with conditional faith which needs to know exactly what’s going to happen and how it’s all going to work out before we submit to God’s plan? Or are we going to respond with unconditional faith which submits to God’s plan, even when it doesn’t make sense?
 A few examples are 1 Peter 4:12-13, James 1:2-4, Isaiah 48:9-11, Psalm 66:10-12, and Revelation 3:18.