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Refining

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer various trials, so that the authenticity of your faith —more precious than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

I Peter 1:6-7 (Berean)

While scrolling through my email, I found a Groupon for a facial located at a distance not too far away. I love massages but I treat facials more like going to see the dentist — every now and then it’s a good idea to check in. The selling pitch was that an arm and shoulder massage were included.

Sans make-up, when I arrived the esthetician gave me a form to fill out. One of the questions was what did I want to get out of the facial. I thought a few moments and then wrote down that I wanted her to take off 20 years.

An hour later, I left after tolerating many layers — cleanser, scrub, mask, serum, moisturizer — interspersed with hot towels, cold towels, and steam. Sensations of stinging, pain, massage, and finally, soothing lotion, alternately applied, reminded me why this is not my favorite beauty treatment.

But, but, but — my face is now so smooth and soft. It was worth it; I may even go more often.

God’s refining often comes in the form of many layers, too. We do our best to hide the imperfections on our faces with make-up, highlighters, and concealers, to name a few. We may try to cover up our sin and hopelessness with busyness, indifference, and addictions.

The trials we endure are like the scrubs and masks that rid my face of all the dead skin cells and clogged pores, finally,  getting down to the bare, clean skin. God wants to give us life — abundant life — and it won’t happen if it’s hidden by sin and selfishness. It may take the sting and pain of God’s cleansing to remove the old to reveal the new.

Yet, He doesn’t leave us bare with no covering, an easy target for the enemy. No, He blankets us with the blood of Jesus bringing life. He gives us the Holy Spirit who fills us with love. And above all — when we have endured to the end — HOPE is our reward.

 But that’s not all! We gladly suffer, because we know that suffering helps us to endure. And endurance builds character, which gives us a hope that will never disappoint us. All of this happens because God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love.

Romans 5:3-5 (CEV)

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