Have you ever wondered what’s inside a dog’s squeaky toy?
Of course not. Because if you’ve ever had a dog with a squeaky toy, you’ve already seen the inside.
Do you know how you got to see the inside? Because the outside was completely chewed up and destroyed.
Some days I feel like that squeaky toy.
The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is in us (2 Corinthians 13:5). Unlike the inside of my dog’s squeaky toy, I don’t know what that looks like.
Unfortunately, I suspect the way we find out is very similar.
In times of trial, I question why God is making me go through this. I feel like I am being ripped apart and chewed up. Or maybe like I’ve been swallowed whole and am navigating a long, dark, winding passage that, quite frankly, stinks.
The reality is even worse than the metaphor.
I argue with myself – whether God is causing the suffering, whether I brought this on myself, whether there is any way to get through this dark night of the soul any faster, whether I am going to make it out at all.
My arguments go nowhere. But this is what the Bible says: That when we are tested by various trials – various fiery trials – the genuineness of our faith is being tested. And not just tested in the sense of does it exist and how strong is it, but tested in the sense of testing gold in the furnace. This means burning off the dross and refining our faith into something even more precious than gold.
Faith, I am coming to see, is not just revealed in the furnace of our trials, but actually made.
“I want a faith like that,” I used to think when I witnessed individuals who seemed to have an unwavering connection to God. I knew it was a dangerous prayer even when I said it, but I didn’t know it was going to hurt so, so bad.
I do not have an unwavering faith. But I am in the furnace. And I am clinging to this promise: that we are being guarded not by our own feeble strength of faith, but by God’s power. At the last time, the goal of our faith, like a chewed up squeaky toy, is going to be revealed. And that goal is the salvation of our souls (1 Peter 1:5-9).
Christ dwells within us now. Peter (1:8) urges us that though we have not seen Christ, we can love Him, and though we do not see Him now, we can believe in Him. Some day we will see Him face-to-face, but we don’t have to wait until then to know He is here.
Maybe we just have to listen for the squeak.
Sometimes it’s hard to hear over the roar of the furnace, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Janet Beagle, Ph.D. serves as director of graduate programs for Purdue University’s College of Engineering and is a writer, a Bible study teacher, and a student of God’s word. In her spare time, she likes to eat other people’s cooking and hike with her dog, Marly, who recently passed away but is not forgotten. Read more of Janet’s Christian reflections at www.mustardpatch.org.