Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I came across many Bibles as we were cleaning out my dad' s house. The article below fell out of one of them. It was very yellowed and crumpled, but someone obviously thought it was worth saving. So I stopped my packing for a moment and read it. I was very touched by the message and it made me think of how we are so conditioned to believe that life is supposed to be one joyous ride with never a trial. As I finished the article I realized, some of our most important lessons come from the things that cut us to the core.

Of course, it was just a clipping with no reference to the author or paper from which it was taken. I searched the web to see if I could find me article so that I would have the appropriate references. I have reproduced the article below from the clipping.

The Sermonette-- The Price Of Pure Gold

"... when he had tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10)

No one likes to be tried, tempted, punished, corrected, forced to endure hardship or obliged to struggle very hard mentally or physical in order to survive. We all prefer the easy life, shielded from pain, suffering, hardship and effort of all kinds.

Refining processes leading to perfection are severe. Fire, high temperatures, strong acids, beating, rolling and mixing in various combinations and degrees are necessary in the refining of metals.

But when the crude ores are subjected to the necessary degree of heat the proper acids, sufficient rolling and beating and finally mixed with various alloys-a highly refined and desirable product is the result.

Job perceived that something similar was necessary to transform human personality in the rough, to a degree of refinement and development that might be compared to gold. Metallic ores are not attractive. They are dirty, heavy, crumbly and of little value until after they have undergone the long, complicated process of refinement until, finally, the pure gold or the stainless steel emerges from the unattractive mass. Job developed the insight to see that we all begin life as crude ore and require the fire, the heat, the acid, the beating and the rolling one encounters in life in order that we might eventually "come forth as gold."

Unless one habitually uses his muscles to the point of becoming tired and uncomfortable, he will not develop great strength. Unless he repeats the same movements over and over and learns to endure endless boredom, he will not develop desirable manual and technical skills. It is hard work to think. Most of us avoid it as far as possible. Nevertheless, if we do not think and think hard and continually and to the point of great discomfort, we will not develop much capacity for thinking.

We do not like to undergo hardships but there is no other way to develop strength. We are annoyed when we have to solve problems and bear responsibility but self-reliance and capacity can be attained no other way. We do not like to withstand temptation; it is much easier to yield. But character and integrity are the fruits that ripen slowly on the tree of steadfast self-control.

We are no stronger than the temptations we have overcome; no more self-reliant than the problems we have solved and difficulties we have surmounted. Our skills and never exceed the effort we have put forth to acquire them. Our insights are not greater than efforts we have made to gain them and the imagination we have developed by the steady and continual use of our mind. Our spiritual development is measured by the amount of time we spend reading the scriptures, studying devotional literature and worshiping God.

As gold emerges from the fire and acid, so excellence of character emerges when one refuses to be crushed by the temptations, storms and hardships of life, but seizes, and even welcomes them as the necessary processes through which he must pass in order to bring forth the best there is in him.

One man falls when temptation confronts him while another resists and strengthens his character. One man gives up when accident, illness or misfortune assails, but another mobilizes his determination, his mental and physical resources and, with great effort and persistence, overcomes the obstacle.

We do not like such experiences but we would be pusillanimous weaklings without them.

To fulfill a reasonable portion of one's potential, one must strive mightily, just as one must exert himself in patient toil to gain the summit of a mountain.

Then, welcomed each rebuff
That turns earth smoothness rough
Each sting that bids nor sit nor stand but go!
Be our joys three-parts pain!
Strive, and hold cheap the strain;
Learn, nor account the pang; dare,
Never grudge the throe!

Robert Browning-Rabbi Ben Ezra Stanza 6