Sometimes pain, affliction, or suffering has purpose.

When we are going through the hard times in our lives we often wonder “where is God?” Philosophers have wrestled with the question of “why do bad things happen to good people?” There’s an entire text in the Bible about this very question, the book of Job.

Isaiah 48 opens with God explaining why his people are experiencing affliction. There are two reasons, first, he says they are stiff-necked. The sinews of their neck are like iron! This means that they can’t turn or change. It’s an illustration for a lack of repentance.

The second reason is that it is a result of the affliction or suffering God is glorified.

This second reason is a hard pill for me to swallow. It feels uncomfortable. But, then as I continued to ponder what he’s saying, I am drawn back to the opening verse, “Hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and who came from the waters of Judah, who swear by the name of the LORD and confess the God of Israel, but not in truth or right.”

He’s speaking to people who are called but have not yet trusted. So, he refines them. This refining is like the refining of gold and silver. This pain, this affliction is changing people. As they come to see their need for him, they turn. Their necks are loosened and they trust him. When this happens God is glorified.

The suffering does not bring God glory. The affliction is purposeful and transformative. When God’s people are changed and refined this is when he is glorified.

Is there an area that you are being refined in? Where is God working to transform you?

Tested, Refined, Changed was originally published in The Rev on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.