How True Abundance HappensJun 29, 2022
For you, God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison
and laid burdens on our backs.
You let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance. (Psalm 66:10-12 NIV)
If it weren’t for that last line, this would be a pretty dismal passage. Being tested and put through the flames like silver being refined. Being imprisoned and burdened. Feeling as threatened as Israel did when the Egyptian army chased them down at the Red Sea. How could such situations ever lead to a place of abundance? The answer is more than just Israel’s final destination in the promised land. Their wilderness journey was a place of preparation for abundance.
This sounds much like the spiritual counsel James offers in his New Testament letter, which begins with the words “consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters” (James 1:2). If I’m reading this letter for the first time, I can’t wait for the pure joy James has to offer me. Will it be spiritual blessings? Great comfort? Encouragement of heart? A new opportunity? What is this pure joy James is going to tell me about?
James encourages us to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds. He says we should consider it a privilege when we’re profoundly tested. Maybe your first response, like mine, is one of suspicion. When going through a challenging round of testing in life, our first response usually isn’t “pure joy.” But James is inviting us to a different perspective. “Consider it,” he says.
I’ve lived long enough to look back on past situations where it felt like I was being stretched to a breaking point and recognize the ways in which those moments tested and rooted my trust deeper in God. That’s the sort of joy James is talking about when he says “because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” And when perseverance has completed its work in us, we’ll discover that we’ve become mature, complete, and without lack.
That’s how true abundance works. God tests and refines our lives. The usual refinery God uses is hardship–the stuck places and heavy places we journey through. For a time he may allow something or someone to seemingly overcome us, but he will never allow it to destroy us. His heart is for us to enter into places of abundance.
Our problem is that we aren’t exactly clear on the true meaning of abundance. We keep thinking it’s about cash or possessions or achievements or pleasure or fame or any of the other currencies of our culture. We rush around trying to get more, more, and still more. But if we keep on needing more and more, maybe what we’re chasing isn’t actually what we need most.
Having lots of nice things isn’t abundance, and we can see that by how quickly we grow dissatisfied with what we possess at any given moment. Abundance is relationship. Abundance is personal. Abundance is a quality of soul. Abundance is a life lived deeply at home in God.
- In what ways have you experienced abundance lately?
- In what ways have you felt tested?
- How might God be leading you along a path of true abundance in the midst of your current life experiences?
- How would you like to talk with God about this?