There is something majestic and romantic when you see an old wooden vessel. As it regally stands at attention in the harbor, imagine the life and experience of such a ship. Envision the exotic scenery, the splendid moments of valor it witnessed. Capture in your mind’s eye the torment of struggle in the squall of the terrifying sea storm. As some of these ships were eventually retired and dismantled, a writer documented how exquisite the lumber of these ships appeared. He tells of an oak beam from one ship which had been on the high seas for eighty years exhibited such coloring and distinctive grain it attracted the attention of many a passersby in a local furniture shop. A mahogany beam which had sixty years experience with colors deepened and grain defined was compared to the artistic value of a Chinese vase.
What conditioned this timber into such a spectacle? It was not age alone. The “straining and wrenching of the vessel by the sea, the chemical action of the bilge water, and the many kinds of cargoes” transformed the original bright fiber into something of esteemed value.
James said, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:2-3). You are that ship sailing on the seven seas of life. You face the hurricanes of tragedy, the gnawing of old age, the burdens of cares all which contribute to your exquisite character.
Suffering cannot be avoided. Eliphaz had that much right when he said, “Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).
Suffering should be endured because it identifies us with Christ: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10).
Suffering fashions you into a vessel of honor which will one day be a display of God’s marvelous works (Job 5:9).
“The Lord trieth the righteous. In the Lord put I my trust” (Psalm 11:1, 5).
“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:12).