A diamond is the strongest naturally occurring substance on earth. When cut and polished, it reflects light from every facet. A skilled diamond cutter can shatter a diamond, but he or she only creates more diamonds. In contrast, coal dust dirties and blackens everything. When inhaled, it stays in the lungs forever. Long-term exposure causes black lung disease in coal miners and strong winds will turn coal dust into an airborne irritant.
What’s true of coal is true for Christians.
On this journey we all will face tough times. Sometimes life squeezes us so hard our souls bleed. Some Christians become God’s diamonds, while others crumble into dust. Why?
Why does one Christian grow more Christ-like under pressure, while another Christian, facing the same circumstances, withers into bitterness?
It comes down to both our spiritual understanding and our choices.
There are many external pressures facing us in this world; Illness, worry, financial woes, unemployment, disrupted relationships, unexpected death—the path a Christian walks can be painful. We experience many of the same heartbreaks and sorrows unbelievers do. Life is often messy.
I’ve seen some Christians face life’s difficulties with amazing faith and peace. I’ve also seen other Christians who turn their back on God, becoming disillusioned, bitter and defeated.
Sometimes that defeat comes from of wrong teaching.
Some of my brothers and sisters have been taught to believe an emotional fantasy. They believe that because they’re His children, God will protect them from all hurtful circumstances. Sorry, but that’s a lie. Christians have been martyred throughout history. Even within the bible, God’s favorites often suffered imprisonments, beatings and all sorts of unjust treatment. Unfortunately, no contrary evidence shakes this deception. The fantasy of a pain-free life is just too appealing.Their false belief becomes like a thin coating of ice over a deep lake. As long as the ice supports their weight, they’re happy Christ-followers. But if the ice cracks and plunges them into the icy water of tragedy or heartbreak, their faith shatters. They feel betrayed by God and abandoned–and they turn away, never learning to draw upon His strength to support and comfort them.
Do you want your suffering to count? I do. More than anything, I want to become one of God’s diamonds–a tough, resilient Christian, who sparkles in the light.
Here’s some characteristics shared by Christians who are being formed into diamonds:
1) A strong belief in God’s sovereignty. Like Joseph in Genesis, these Christians believe all their life’s circumstances are in the Almighty’s hand. They trust Him with the outcome.
4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!
7 But God sent me ahead of you… to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.
(Genesis 45:4,7-8) NIV
Joseph saw his Master’s hand in every evil thing that had happened to him–slavery, imprisonment, betrayal–and believed the One he served stayed beside him, even in the deepest, darkest pit.
2) They remain faithful, even in the darkest places. People being compressed into diamonds draw close to God in high-pressure situations. They continue to serve Him– even just by prayer or kindness to others. Joseph remained loyal, hard-working and trustworthy in Egypt and God gave him favor with his earthly masters.
3) They battle their feelings–and win. Fear starts to surge in and they declare, “Lord, I trust You–You’ve got this.” Self-pity gets stomped on. Their emotions aren’t allowed to dictate their actions, their words or their thinking. It’s truly a battle, but one worth fighting.
Christians aren’t formed into God’s diamonds just by external pressure but by the pressure of our inward response to tough times. We grow in Christ-likeness by choosing to act in a godly way when we don’t want to.