God doesn’t always say what I want to hear. He often begins our dialog with the state of my heart rather than the solution to my problem.
The Joseph of multi-colored-coat fame knew this well. When recounting Joseph’s life, the Psalmist points out, “Until the time that His Word came to pass, the Word of the Lord tested him ” (Psalm 105:19). Tested him? Yes, and the gravity of this particular word is significant. The literal Hebrew meaning of ṣārap̄ (test) is a smelter’s word, describing the assaying process of refining ore.
When God gives poignant dreams (as He did with young Joseph), it is not only to reveal His plans but also to refine. Let me say that more plainly: When you hear a word from the Lord, expect failure before fulfillment.
The Word of the Lord will test and refine you. Like smelting gold, your ordeal may involve extreme pressure, heat, and chemicals to separate your impurities. It is the rare lump of gold that doesn’t cry out in agony during this refinement.
May we be encouraged by Charles Spurgeon’s words: “Men do not put base metal into the furnace; they spend their assaying upon precious gold.” During our smelting, remember that while we endure fire, pressure, and chemical burns, God sees the value of our essence.
Joseph must have questioned his dreams while his feet remained shackled in a foreign dungeon. During the pressure of Potipher’s wife, the heat of scandal, and the acid of unjust imprisonment, he must have wondered if he had ever heard God’s voice at all. And even if he had, was this testing worth it?
Joseph didn’t know that a great “until” was coming. This testing was only “until the time that His Word came to pass“ (Psalm 105:19). “The vision is yet for the appointed time, it hastens toward the goal, and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3).
O friend, may we be more convinced by His Word than the situation surrounding us. The exact dream that once delighted us may now bring us distress. Don’t be surprised when you hear God’s direction, and then the pathway to fulfillment disappears almost immediately. This is a routine procedure in God’s revelation. Questions are part of the process. You can hear correctly and still wonder why.
Did He speak to you just before turning up the heat? Congratulations. Your Father sees within you a genuine faith that is more precious than gold (1 Peter 1:7). Even though the smelter’s fire tests you now, “God never fails anyone” (1 Corinthians 1:9 WET). Your “until” is on its way. Wait for it. He will not delay a moment more than necessary.