Last fall, I completed a six-week Daniel fast. I entered with expectations that God was going to give me the desires of my heart in the ways I wanted and direct my steps with clear guidance. Instead, God surfaced a variety of issues He wanted to work on in my life. So many, that the top of the mountain seemed insurmountable. God wanted me to know I couldn’t climb to the peak on my own. I had to surrender to the Holy Spirit to empower me step by step each day.
Instead of God fulfilling my wish list, I got a deep scrubbing. It felt like God had taken a steel wool pad to my soul and starting rubbing out the sin. He couldn’t see His face shine in mine with all the grime of my pride. The Lord in His love for me wanted to work out my selfish motivations.
Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart” (NKJV). My will had to align to God’s heart because He would not bend to mine. Even if what I wanted was a good, if I wanted it more than God, He couldn’t give it to me. I have to delight in the Lord above all else. Then my heart will be filled with God’s desires for me.
I have to be cleaned inside before God can work out all His promises. God is scouring my spirit so that I can reflect His priorities to the world. Without a pure heart, I can’t see God (Matthew 5:8). So, because of God’s love for me, I went through the wringer.
Honestly, it hurt. Over 45 days, God surfaced 13 areas of my life that required major work. Without God’s grace, depression would have crushed my soul. Instead, I remembered that for grapes to make juice, they have to be pressed. My junk had to be removed for God’s goodness to emerge. I am pressed but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair (2 Corinthians 4:8).
God didn’t love me less because of a hard season. Instead, it demonstrated the depths of His love. If He didn’t discipline me, it would mean He had given up on me. Instead, He puts in the hard work with me to refine me.
Hebrews 12:5-6 says, “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.’”
The Lord chastens me because I am His daughter. Instead of being discouraged that I will never improve, God encourages me that He is disciplining me out of love. He doesn’t want to leave me in my current state. God wants me to experience living a holy life like Him, but knows it is impossible for me to be holy and justify my humanity with excuses (Hebrews 12:7-10). He sees through my problems, diligently polishing my heart until I look more and more like His Son.
Sometimes, I feel like I’m being rung out on one of those vintage washboards where you scrape off the stains by repeatedly rubbing the cloth up and down metal grooves. Every bump of the board jolts me. Hebrews 12:11 says, “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (NKJV). Chastening is not fun. It is painful. Yet, I look for the glory of God He will bring from this growth. Good fruit for His kingdom is coming my way. If God has worked to prune away so much of my life, it is to make room for a more fruit (John 15:1-2). I await a harvest of His glory from this wilderness time of life.
How about you? Are you pleading with the Lord for something and seeming to get no traction? Maybe you feel you are going backwards despite trying to seek God’s will. Let the Lord cleanse your soul. Part of the sanctification process requires scrubbing. God cannot abide with our sin, so He finds ways to remove it to make more space for Himself. Though it may hurt, I pray the Lord gives you grace through the drought and a plentiful harvest of spiritual fruit that glorifies God soon.
Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program. She is passionate about discipleship and helping people know God better. Joanna enjoys coffee, traveling, and reading, and currently lives in Florida.