My friend came round for a three hour marathon coffee and catch-up time yesterday.  We had a great time together.  One of the things she said struck a chord in me.  She mentioned that while praying through a difficult situation, God gave her a picture of an oyster.  The irritating bits of sand and dirt that get inside the oyster shell are what produce the beautiful pearl.

This reminded me of the way God taught me spiritual truth through a tea bag a few weeks ago.  I, too, was feeling miserable about an ongoing difficult situation.  Actually, forget miserable, I was indulging in feeling thoroughly sorry for myself, even asking God what I’d done to deserve this.  Especially as I could see no end to it.

I happened to be making a cup of tea at the time and the Holy Spirit drew my attention to the tea bag.  A tea bag on its own doesn’t do anything.  You can’t eat it, you can’t drink it, and it doesn’t smell particularly pleasant.  But a tea bag that has had boiling water poured on becomes a fragrant and refreshing drink.  It’s the boiling water that draws out the flavour.

Through both of these pictures, God showed my friend and me that it’s through the difficult times that we grow in character.  He allows difficult people – whether that be family, irritating work colleagues, or inconsiderate neighbours – and hard situations into our lives at times for our good and, ultimately, for His glory.  By trusting Him and allowing Him to take us right through situations that we would rather not be in, He will use them to ensure our rough edges are rubbed off until we reflect more-and-more the beauty of Jesus’ character.  And we will become richer Christians, richer in spiritual things.

So if this is you today, why not thank God for this trial and ask Him to teach you all that He wants you to learn from it?  A purity of faith and beauty of character will be the end result.

Let me close with the words of a man in the Bible called Job, who lost all of his children, his job, his possessions and his health all in one day:

…when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold.