Read: Jeremiah 16:16-18:23, 1Thessalonians 4:1-5:3, Psalm 81:1-16, Proverbs 25:6-8
So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. (Jeremiah 18:3-4)
Relate: Army Ranger training is really nothing more than voluntary torture. It’s said that going through Ranger Training is an equivalent of taking about 5 years off your life. The high levels of stress, starvation diet, sleep deprivation, and grueling physical tasks slowly wear away on a person to the point that when they graduate, if they make it through, they are a ghost of their former self and in the worst shape of their life. In addition to the weight loss, dehydration, and sleep deprivation, trainees often suffer from trench foot, tissue tears, nerve damage, fractures, frostbite, heatstroke, and numerous other ailments. Nobody in their right mind would voluntarily go through this. Yet thousands, every year, try.
The reason for that is because this voluntary torture serves a purpose. Rangers are the best of the best. (I don’t care what you SEALS say, they are.) They are being prepared to “go further and faster and fight harder” than any other soldier in the world. In order to make the perfect soldier, the Army knows that it must first unmake whatever has been there before. That is why training seems so impossible to an outsider. They mean to break you down. (Besides, if a Ranger happens to get captured, what can an enemy possibly do to him that is worse than what he has already done to himself?)
React: I will never, ever subject myself to anything nearly as grueling as Ranger training. Maybe a Tough Mudder, but that’s not close. However, how many times have I asked God to make me into what He wants me to be? Like the potter Jeremiah saw and like Ranger Training, sometimes that means He needs to unmake something in me first. If I seem to keep going through the same type of trial, over and over, is it because there is something He wants to teach me that I am not learning? I don’t believe every hardship comes from God, but I definitely know that every hardship can be used by Him. Am I willing to learn?
Dear God, if need be, break me down. I want to be a reflection of You but all too often too much of me is shining through. Whatever it takes, dig it out. When I am going through hard times, help me to understand what it is You want me to learn from it. Help me to be more compassionate with others who might be going through trials of their own. In all things, both good and bad, help me to become more like You.