My family have debated the truth of this recent chart song ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. Sometimes the horrific things that happen, or the unfortunate events, don’t finish us off, but they don’t make us stronger. You can be flattened, demoralised, weakened by life happenings as much as the opposite.
That’s what I thought last year after battling for many months with depression. My emotional life was at mercy to the vagaries of the day or pressure of the moment. I felt pretty washed up on the shore as to any sense of usefulness in ministry or work. I couldn’t see how the prayers of family and friends that I would emerge ‘stronger’ could possibly come true. I felt that my best years were behind me and I was now simply marking time.
Yet, as the months go by I have found a growing inner strength to my life that I thought wouldn’t return. In fact, it is there more than before.
I have been struck with the word ‘residue’ this week. A residue is a compound which has passed through a filter. According to wiki:
‘Filtration, as a physical operation is very important in chemistry for the separation of materials of different chemical composition. A solvent is chosen which dissolves one component, while not dissolving the other. By dissolving the mixture in the chosen solvent, one component will go into the solution and pass through the filter, while the other will be retained. This is one of the most important techniques used by chemists to purify compounds.’
I have mused on the fact that I feel better in myself this January than I have for three years. Perhaps God is encouraging me to think of this renewed spirituality as a residue. He has allowed me to go through a filtration process, one I still don’t understand. The purpose is that what is left, the residue, is purified and stronger.
The novel, ‘Hind’s Feet on High Places’ speaks of the truth of this. The story follows Much Afraid, the little shepherdess, on her hard pilgrimage to the high places. At each testing point – mountains, dead ends, heartaches and enemies, Much Afraid has to sacrifice her own way with the way of trusting God’s will for her journey. And at each point she discovers a new precious stone deposited in her heart. Her strength grows at each laying down and each trusting. What doesn’t kill her makes her stronger, if she trusts in the perfect will of her Shepherd.
If God wants to use us to show the light and hope of Jesus in this world, then he might need us to prove in our own lives how weakness can be turned into strength. I admire kingdom people who trust in God’s way of living, even if it leads through tough times. Maybe in your life, there is a precious residue of strength deposited by God as you have held on and trusted Him through testing. Perhaps the refining of your life is leading to a more precious testimony and a help to other people in need of hope and of God.