Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
I have used the knife hundreds of times, but I never stopped to think about the steel. This did not come out of the ground the way we see it but went through quite a process. In order to produce steel from iron ore or scrap, temperatures around 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit heat the material to remove impurities and add alloying elements. This is done to improve the quality of the metal and widen its various uses. It is quite a trial by fire, but this is necessary for acceptable liquid steel casting as well as for ensuring that the metal has the adequate hardness, flexibility and tensile strength. The original iron ore or scrap alone, without this fiery process, would not be satisfactory for all of the modern-day uses of steel. The fire is necessary for the metal to perform at its best.
This process of making steel is a very fitting metaphor for the everyday Christian. In our original and sinful state, we do not have what it takes to carry out the work God has ordained for us. There are trials that we will endure, and those trials will purify us and produce necessary spiritual fruit in us. We will grow stronger and more diligent in spirit, and we will begin to exhibit the character of God. As we continue to go through these trials, faithfulness is required for us to succeed. We must be able to endure what lies ahead so that we will be rewarded with growth and transformation. Beyond those rewards in the here and now, there lies ahead a greater reward for those who remain faithful to God. If we can keep ourselves loyal and obedient while going through the fire, then we gain the crown of life.
There will be times when we feel as though life does not challenge or test our faithfulness to God at all. We will have days when everything goes swimmingly, and we are not tempted put our trust elsewhere. On those days it seems like everything is fine. However, we cannot realistically expect that our Christian walk will look like this every day. There is a necessary time of trial that we will endure, and there will be many such times. Those are the times in which we really build our faithfulness, because those are the times when it is challenged. If we can learn to focus on God during the trial and on satisfying him with our loyalty, we can expect the prize. Father, help us to keep our eyes on the crown when our faithfulness is tested.