We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  2 Corinthians 4:8-9

When I was young, my mom’s hobby was ceramics.  She did everything from pouring her own molds to painting.  Part of the process involved firing the pieces in a kiln, which was like an oven.  When she placed a piece of greenware into the kiln, it was very fragile.  I would sometimes help and knew that I had to be very careful with each piece.  Too much pressure and the whole piece could crumble in my hands.  Once everything was loaded into the kiln, the firing process began.  The heat inside the kiln was so intense that often the pieces seem to glow with the heat they had absorbed.  I was always amazed that instead of being destroyed, each piece came out much stronger than before.

How often do you feel as if your life has been placed in a kiln?  Maybe the heat is so intense that you feel as though you will be destroyed before God finally lifts you out.  We all get discouraged at times by the events of our lives.  It’s hard to understand why loved ones must suffer physical ailments or spouses, children, or parents die; what to do when finances falter or jobs are terminated; or where to turn when relationships fail or children make poor choices.  The list goes on and on.

Often the “heat” of one life changing event seems more than we can bear, but unfortunately sometimes we find ourselves facing more than one obstacle at a time.  It’s natural to wonder how we can possibly survive another day.  2 Corinthians 4:8-9 reminds us that we may feel pressure from every direction, but we will not be crushed.  We may get knocked down periodically, but we will not be destroyed.  God has carefully placed us in the kiln of life.  He knows exactly how much heat we can stand.

We must remember the “heat” is only temporary, and just as the ceramics come out of the kiln stronger than before, we too will emerge from those “hot” times of our lives stronger than before.  “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”  (2 Corinthians 4:18).  We must remember in our pain that these moments are temporary, and we will not be abandoned.

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