by Maureen Miller
“You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials, so that the proven character of your faith—more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” I Peter 1:6- 7 CSB
As far as my eyes could see… skeletons.
The lodgepole pines poked heavenward, naked and marred—their lifeless forms telling a harrowing tale. Compared to the majesty of the Grand Tetons, these were a stark contrast. Nothing appeared beautiful to me—at least not until I observed more closely, leaned in to listen more carefully.
Right on cue, our guide, perhaps sensing my horror, continued. “See the wildflowers dotting the forest floor? And among them, the saplings—infant lodgepoles pushing toward the sun? These are just some of the results born of fire, because life is resilient and returns in extraordinary ways after the purging caused by destruction.”
And indeed, as I looked more intently, I saw them—signs of new life, and I sighed relief. After all, our guide knew so much more than me, shedding fresh light on my previous and limited perspective.
In reality, these unique coniferous trees possess a powerful life-preserving quality. Wildfires are not uncommon in the arid environment of the northwest, sometimes raging for weeks, destroying hundreds, even thousands, of acres of land.
Lodgepole pines, however, produce serotinous cones. Unlike other conifers, their cones must be exposed to intense heat in order for their outer coverings to open, releasing the seeds inside. In this manner, life continues, and beauty is born anew, even after the devastation of forest fires.
Beauty from literal ashes. New life from a refining fire.
With this broadened understanding, I observed differently—marveling at God’s creative hand even in the stark contrasts. The charred, lifeless lodgepoles no longer appeared to me mere skeletal remains but, rather, a source of rebirth—with wildflowers and saplings dancing joy among them.
And such is true for the child of God. Beauty is born when we endure the Refiner’s fire. Though one faces hardship in sickness and earthly sorrows, as she looks to God’s Son, her suffering and resurrected Savior, she can endure. More, she blossoms with fruitfulness that comes from abiding in the Holy Spirit—including love, joy, peace, and patience (Galatians 5:22, 23).
As we lean in, listening to God and applying His Word, our perfect Guide, our limited and narrow perspective is transformed, no matter the suffering we endure. We recognize that, despite what may have at first seemed destructive, God works through hardships, turning even the most harrowing life situation into a true tale of His interceding and gracious goodness.
And remember—others are observing our lives. As they hear our stories of endurance despite suffering, marred though we may be, they, too, will witness much more than sorrow and pain. After all, an abiding life in Christ is a stark contrast to one apart from Him, and a Christian’s testimony is proof that, while we yet dwell in an imperfect world stained with sin, God is faithful. Not only is He present with us in our suffering, but He suffered Himself that all might receive new life.
Because beauty born of hardship shines forth as pure gold, pointing others heavenward to the saving power of Jesus, resulting in praise, glory, and honor to His name.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Maureen Miller has a heart to convey God’s faithfulness and love to a world in need. She blogs regularly at www.penningpansies.com and is finishing her debut novel The Bible by the Bed, under contract with Redemption Press. She can be found picking wildflowers in western North Carolina or playing with grandchildren and her dogs in dancing pastures, the dwelling place for her family’s Scottish Highlanders.
Join the conversation: Has God brought gold from the ashes in your life?