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The Refining in the Fire - how there is hope in our seasons of pain and heartbreak

When people ask you how you're doing, do you answer honestly? If you were to answer with the complete truth, what would you say?

If we were to be honest with each other, I have a feeling that we'd quickly realize that many of us are fighting unseen battles.

And if you are one of those people out there, fighting unseen battles right now, I want you to know that I see you. And I feel you. Because the struggle is real over here too.

I want you to know that it's okay that this is hard. It's okay that it's taking a little bit longer to heal than you thought. It's okay that you can't carry it alone anymore (friend, please let someone in and let them help you). It's okay to admit how bad it's hurting. It's okay to cry (actually, please do, please don't hold it all in - it's not good for your heart).

I've called this season of my life the healing journey, and I think that is an absolutely appropriate title, but I've also started calling it my refining time. Because as much as I hate it, as much as I hate the pain and I'm ready to stop hurting, I know that in the seasons of our deepest hurts, those are the places where Jesus is working the most. Those are the places where Jesus is pruning our hearts, refining our character, and strengthening our faith. Those are the places where we learn our biggest life lessons as Jesus is changing our lives - not in dramatic, giant slaying ways but in the slow, tedious process of healing and surrendering.

This is a refining season, and it's hard. But, already, Jesus has shown me so many important things and drawn me closer to Him. Already, He is teaching me mind-boggling things about pain and growth, and honestly, I know that He's in the process of doing something big.

I want to encourage you with three things about this refining season. I know it's not easy, but it's not without purpose. There is hope and peace in this place, despite the struggle we find in it. There is a light and a beautiful story waiting to be told, only if we let Jesus keep doing the hard heart work in our souls as He renews and strengthens us.

1. Jesus had to experience such massive, unbelievable amounts of pain for our good - and it was all for the bigger picture.

The other day at church I was praying over everything I was feeling and struggling with, and I felt Jesus whisper in my heart that He understood because He lived it. I realized that Jesus too experienced heartbreak and pain beyond anything I could ever imagine, and in those moments, He too asked His Father to make it stop. He asked God for a way out, but He also knew that the pain had a purpose.

Jesus had to experience the most gruesome death on the cross to be reconciled with us. His story, His testimony, His hurt, it all affected more people than just Him - it affected the fate of the entire universe.

And while our pain won't change the fate of the universe, it may be able to change or positively impact someone else's story. Our struggle may be able to one day, encourage someone else going through the same thing. A friend told me that one day, I would be able to help my future daughter after her first heartbreak because I'm living it right now. My prayer has started to be "Father, if You won't take away the pain, then use it to help someone else", and that has been such an encouragement to me.

The battles that you and I are fighting right now are not without purpose. They are not meaningless. God is going to use us, one day, in ways I don't know yet, to bless someone else in their fight, and that's a beautiful thing to me. If our pain, our struggle, has an impact on more people than just me, then that motivates me to want to cling to Jesus even more and embrace the struggle as He writes a story I couldn't share without the pain.

2. Diamonds have to be put through the fire before they can be beautiful.

Taylor Swift wrote a song called "Bejeweled", describing how she was able to "sparkle" after her breakup. And honestly, that sounds great, because who doesn't want to sparkle and shine? But the reality is that for diamonds and other precious gems to actually sparkle, to actually be beautiful, they have to be put through blazing hot fire. That fire is refining the stone, purifying its blemishes and cleaning away the "dirt".

In the same way, we must be refined through the fire before we can come out of the other side stronger and "sparkly", for lack of a better word. This fire is transforming us, but it's transforming us for the better. Without this fire, we will never heal, never surrender, and never be freed. Without this fire, Jesus cannot do His work in us to allow His glory and testimony and grace to shine through all of our imperfections. This fire is refining us, but God is making something beautiful out of it.

3. The biggest growth happens in the most extreme pain.

A few years ago, when I went through one of the darkest times in my entire life as I battled crippling depression and anxiety, I thought I'd never get out of it. I believed I was too deep, too broken, and too unlovable. I believed God was an eternity away, and so I gave up on my faith. I stopped trying and started going through the motions, giving up on any sort of prayer or real Bible study because if God was good, then why would He allow me to go through that much pain? If God is good, then why does it hurt so bad?

Even though I didn't see it in that moment, it was all so that I could experience His love in a new way. I had to learn the hard way that even if I don't feel His presence, He has never given up on me and He has never left. I had to learn, through that dark place, that He is writing a story with my life, and sometimes we don't understand all the plot twists until we come out of the other side. That's hard, but it's the truth.

That pain taught me so many things about who God is and who I am, and without that experience, I wouldn't be who I am today. It literally refined my faith and strengthened me in a way I have a hard time describing, but I realized that when we are forced to cling to Jesus in a new way, because He's all we have left, it creates an intimacy and trust in our relationship with Him. It draws us closer to Him, and we learn to trust and surrender in a way we haven't yet experienced because the good times don't challenge us to do that. The pain opens our eyes to where God is and our desperate need for Him, because we don't see that when everything is sunshine and rainbows.

Some lessons we have to learn in seasons of pain and struggle, because that's the only way they'll hit home. Sometimes it takes a season or two of hurt and heartbreak to draw us back to Jesus, because in those seasons, we need Him in a new way - and ultimately, those hard seasons are what strengthen our faith and pull us closer to the Father.


So, if you are on your own healing journey or in the middle of your refining time, I want you to remember that you are not alone. Don't ever forget that your pain has a purpose, and even if you can't see it yet, God is writing a beautiful story that will shine His glory and grace. Even if you can't see it yet, there is light at the end of this tunnel, and it's not over yet.



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