I have told you how that a gem’s value is determined by first of all, its shine, and second, its rarity. Now for a third valuable characteristic -- its hardness. Some gems, such as opals and pearls, are too soft to be hardness tested. Under duress they crumble. Maybe if you looked at my life you would wonder how a woman can do what I do, or live like I have lived, or handle what I have handled. I don’t know. I don’t see it that way. I often wonder why, when so many Christians are going through so many hard and sorrowful things, we are not. My family is healthy. We very rarely see a doctor. My husband and I have been happily married for nineteen years. Physically, we lack nothing . All that is a wonderful blessing, and I know it is from the Lord. But I wonder sometimes if the reason why I don’t go through what some of you go through is that I am too soft. Maybe I couldn’t handle it. Maybe I would crumble or be crushed. My trials are much smaller things than many of my fellow bloggers'.
If you think about it, you can find some good types of precious Christians in the characteristics of those beautiful soft stones. Sometimes the Lord allows us to go through hardships in order to MAKE us soft, so that we will joyfully yield to him. Many of Jesus’ followers would be of little use to him if they had not endured some affliction. As C.H.Spurgeon said so beautifully,
“Strong men are apt to be harsh, imperious, and unsympathetic, and therefore they need to be put into the furnace, and melted down. I have known Christian women who would never have been so gentle, tender, wise, experienced, and holy if they had not been mellowed by physical pain. There are fruits in God's garden as well as in man's which never ripen till they are bruised. Young women who are apt to be volatile, conceited, or talkative, are often trained to be full of sweetness and light by sickness after sickness, by which they are taught to sit at Jesus' feet. Many have been able to say with the psalmist, "It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes." For this reason even such as are highly favoured and blessed among women may feel a sword piercing through their hearts.” (From his sermon entitled, “Beloved, and Yet Afflicted”.)
Other gemstones, like rubies and diamonds, are pressed or smitten to test their hardness. “Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ," the Bible says. A tough and valuable soldier is one who doesn’t whine, who bravely and trustingly endures the difficulties of battle, and does all that his commander tells him to right away, all the way, and with a happy face and heart :o) (In our house, that is how obedience is at least defined, if not practiced.) I am not in favor of women being in the military, and honestly, I am not sure how spiritually militant a woman ought to be. There are certain callings in the Christian life which God has reserved for men to do. But I do know that God expects me to obey him, and that he desires that I would trust him completely for everything and in every circumstance, and that sometimes the pressures I endure are for the benefit of Someone other than myself. Might I be less near-sighted, that I be rid of my “I” troubles. May I see that my light afflictions are ultimately for the glory of Jesus Christ, and as a result, give myself to him with joyful abandon. I would that he would find me soft and beautiful, for him.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (…) (For we walk by faith, not by sight.)” 2 Corinthians 4:17,18; 5:7.