"The Lord cannot fully bless a man until He has first conquered him."
(A.W. Tozer, "The Divine Conquest")
Have you ever tried to cook garlic without first crushing it? Obviously there will be no fragrant aroma that will contribute to the delicacy of your prepared dish. The Chinese secret to delectable cooking is the chopping and crushing of garlic as an ingredient in their dishes. When crushed, garlic not only gives aroma, its healing nutrients are released to promote good health.
Our lives are like that. Trials and adversities have a way of bringing out the aroma of the strength of character in us. The conflicts and problems hem us in and crush us, but it does not destroy us. Suffering makes a person so crushed either better or bitter. Those who remain bitter and unchanged are the whole cloves that go into the pot of life and never produce any aroma of perseverance, hope or victory.
Job losses, homes foreclosed, uncertain tomorrows, relationships gone awry, illness, death, emotional suffering, all these are the ever present crushing
we all must face. There are no easy ways out, no side doors of escape.
The will to fight life's trials with knuckles up can come only when we enter the ring of challenge and though black and blue, remain the last man standing.
Crushed but standing.
In 2 Corinthians 7-10, the Apostle Paul said:
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;
perplexed but not in despair;
persecuted,but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body."
Character is formed by the pounding of trials and hardships, and dross is only removed when the gold goes through the fire. We cannot ask why because these are the realities of life. Sometimes we do not deserve it but it comes. How we react to its coming determines our guts and grit and how strong the will to overcome is revealed.
Romans 5:3 says it in part:
"...but we rejoice in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces
perseverance,; perseverance, character;
and character, hope."
James 1:2 confirms it:
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."
We will not know how strong our muscles are until we exercise it, we will not know how elastic rubber is, until we stretch it, and we will not know how much faith we have, until it is TESTED.
History shows us that great men of the past went through many hardships and difficulties in life and were not overcome by these because of faith in God. The crushing will come, but we need to trust the Hand that does the crushing. Only then can our lives bring forth the sweet aroma of conquest.