"Behold I have refined you...I have tried you in the furnace of affliction." (Isaiah 48:10)
It is certainly true that the Lord tests and refines those He loves. At each point I've come to the threshold, the breaking point where I will surely perish, and then, "wham!" I am pushed further. I realize how shallow and frail my faith is at these times...when the circumstances of my life seem to shatter all I once knew. But I am not without hope, not yet.
The Lord has not left me alone. In showing me how weak I am, Jesus reveals how powerful His grace is if I am willing to receive it. As the Lord reveals to St. Paul: "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9) The key though, is allowing the Lord to do so. Much of this lies in surrender and accepting the cross; a daily struggle for me.
When I look at the lives of the saints though, I can only be encouraged. How much they suffered! Lives fraught with pain, uncertainty, and tremendous obstacles...but they were able to persevere. In the end they triumphed because they knew what awaited them. The Lord has already won, taking on all of human suffering to open the door to Heaven for His Beloved.
I see that I must seek God's love through the cross...and not miss this opportunity to show my Love for Him while I yet have the chance. Jesus died for me. What I am suffering, is but a small trial...and through it, Jesus is growing my heart. No other way to salvation exists but the way of the Cross. And so I will press on! I will fight the good fight and not grow weary. The Lord is my strength.
"...now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold, which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:7)
"I see that God never tries us beyond what we are able to suffer. Oh I fear nothing; if God sends such great suffering to a soul. He upholds it with an even greater grace, although we are not aware of it. One act of trust at such moments gives greater glory to God than whole hours passed in prayer filled with consolations." (St. Faustina, Diary )
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul...Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me....surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." (Psalm 23)