Have you ever used sandpaper to smooth out the rough edges on a project? It comes in different “grits” depending on how coarse or fine you need it to be. If you’re removing a lot – go coarse, but then be prepared to use the fine grit to make it smooth. It is designed to gradually and purposely smooth over a rough surface or to remove something that is deeper than the surface. It takes times and patience to produce the desired results.
God uses a similar process in our lives to do the very same thing. I’ve had experience with this process. I’ve been “smoothed” myself and I’ve been a witness to others going through the process. I have lived long enough to know that God always has purpose in the pain and function behind the frustration caused by these sand paper seasons. A few observations:
- I might be the problem.
I need to allow this sandy season to smooth out my rough edges in my character and to deal with the imperfections that are surfacing in my frailty. James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” I have known this verse for a long time, and I love what it says about trials producing perseverance. As I continue to read the first chapter of James, I think the fourth verse speaks more directly to sand paper seasons. It says, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” It is a process. Don’t lose hope!
- We cannot retreat.
When we go through these tough seasons in life and most situations do not go as planned or just rub us the wrong way, we cannot retreat. We must stand firm in our faith and let these trials shape us to be more like Jesus. Sometimes, I simply don’t know if I have the mental or physical stamina to get everything accomplished that I need to as a Christ-follower, husband, father son, uncle, friend and employee. Many times, I end up shutting down and retreating to something mindless like television. In my wiser moments, I call out to the Lord and meditate on His Truth. He is my Sustainer. He is the only One who can help me allow perseverance to “finish its work.”
- We must keep our perspective.
Through prayer and reflection, He shows me snapshots of how past sand paper seasons have harvested fruit in my life; fruit that can only grow through a sandy season. I see how surviving my own general stupidity and loss has shaped me into a stronger man. God has opened my heart and opened my eyes to the many people who struggle in areas that I have survived. I am astounded at the amount of patience and forgiveness that God has for me as I face challenges in my marriage, my family and my work.
I’ve see an overworked, overtired dad feeling like he isn’t good enough to love and lead his marriage and his family. I see the fear in his eyes and the look of failure on his face. I know that look because many days, I am that man. Even on the most frustrating of days, I am reminded, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1), including sand paper seasons that shape us, our marriages and families.
- Know you aren’t alone.
If you are going through a rough patch right now, take heart in knowing that you are not alone. God is with you and is using this to “refinish” you to be more like Jesus and closer to His heart. It is my prayer for you and for me that we will persevere through our sand paper season and arise “mature and complete”.