Sometimes we are reluctant to draw closer to God because we fear that by doing so, Satan will work harder against us or that God will test us. But learning to trust in God and endure life's storms is vital to us drawing closer to Him. While there are some hardships in life, Heavenly Father can help us benefit from these trials and turn the straw in our lives into gold as we draw closer to Him.
Have you ever heard the story of Rumpelstiltskin, the man who turned straw into gold? Well, he's not the only one that can turn something of little worldly value into something precious.
"I believe God’s greatest genius is His ability to turn the very worst things into the very best things. The fact that God can turn straw into gold doesn’t mean He will take away the straw—the sickness, or heartache, or evil. It does mean He can teach us through the hardest things we experience some of life’s most important lessons. It doesn’t mean He will eliminate evil from the world. It does mean He can redeem anything He allows to happen and turn it to some good.
Job bears his testimony to us about God’s power to turn straw into gold, even when we cannot readily perceive His alchemy:
Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him:
On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:
But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried [honed, developed, purified] me, I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:8–10)
On the wall of my office is a beautiful painting of my Grandma Mattie when she was in her twenties. Mattie had more than her share of challenges. She sustained a compound fracture of her leg when a teen, and the broken bone visibly protruded from her leg at an odd angle throughout her life. It was literally a miracle that she could walk at all. Rheumatic fever robbed her of much of her hearing. She suffered from painful stomach ulcers. She later broke many more bones in a serious car accident. She didn’t marry until she was 30. Most impactful, she lost her beloved husband after only six years of marriage. She was pregnant with their fourth child at the time. Knowing that he was ill, she had been able to acquire a job before his death, allowing her to provide for her young children. But she worked six days a week; she did not even get the full day off work for her husband’s funeral. As a result of hearing her story, exaggerated fears of losing my husband or children have plagued me, especially when our children were young.
Fortunately for me, the stories of my grandmother’s courage, humor, spirituality, intelligence, and good cheer also persist through the generations. She served as the first sister missionary for the LDS Church in Oregon and Washington, and my daughters are fourth-generation sister missionaries. She passed on to me the story of seeing my grandfather in a dream after his death, assuring her that he was waiting for her and watching over their family. I knew my grandmother loved and delighted in me. Her trust in God was palpable. Her faith gave me an option of seeing God as loving and available even though the challenges of life are difficult.
I don’t like the specter of heartache that seeps through my grandmother’s life story to me. Nor did I earn the loving image of God that is also part of her gift and legacy to me. I have had to work hard spiritually to come to trust this God who lets hard things happen to His children, but I have been blessed to leverage my grandmother’s gift of faith and make it my own. My secure connection with her and others provides a secure base to my spiritual life. I have seen God turn straw into gold in my grandmother’s life. Her story helps me trust that process to be real. . .
Sometimes bad things happen. Storms rage, wolves howl, unsavory characters threaten, and our gentle walk in the woods turns into a muddy, dangerous mess. When we just want to call a halt to this crazy camping trip and go home, we may assume our only recourse is to plead and cajole and insist until God realizes He needs to do something to get things back in control because we can’t take anymore.
Except that we probably can take it. We are more resilient than we think. Of course, we don’t always want to have to be resilient. We want to be spared. We want things fixed. We want the clock turned back, the heartache undone, the innocence restored. But we are stronger than we know, just as God is more powerful and wise than we know.
God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, not at anything, including resilience. But He trusts us to not give up, to choose Him as our Father and God, and to keep going. We don’t have to put all our energy into getting God to prevent a future we dread. We can choose to trust ourselves to make it through—with His help."
Image from Getty Images
For more great insights about the love of God read Let God Love You: Why We Don't and How We Can by Wendy Ulrich.