For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
I’m a foodie and I absolutely love pizza! My husband says I’m a pizza snob, but that’s only because I won’t eat just any pizza. It has to the right pizza. There’s something about the perfectly proportioned mix of mozzarella cheese and a sweet, savory sauce, coupled with crust that is gooey on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside that sends my taste buds over the moon! I don’t know what it is but I’ve been this way since I was a kid. I have literally walked for blocks in NYC, going in and out of unfamiliar pizzerias inspecting the pies in an effort to find one that looked like it could be a winner. For me, I’d just rather have no pizza at all than have a slice that falls short.
And then the other night, I was sitting in my car waiting at the Walgreens pharmacy drive-thru when I heard a pastor talking about this very thing on the radio! Well, not his love for pizza, but about the process by which pizza is made. He said, (I’m paraphrasing) “The crust is the most important part of the pizza.”
“It sure is, it makes or breaks the pizza!” I thought.
He continued, “Most people want the ‘good stuff.’ You know… the toppings… the meats, veggies, cheeses, sauce…etc. But without a properly prepared crust, the toppings wouldn’t have the same effect on the pizza. It wouldn’t even be a pizza. The toppings would just fall all over the place.”
In other words, the dough first must be prepared to receive the toppings before the toppings can be used to make a pizza. It is the manipulation of the crust – the pounding, kneading, tossing, and stretching – that prepares the pizza’s foundation to receive the “good stuff.”
I began to give this analogy some serious thought. It put into greater perspective the suffering and pain that I’ve experienced in my life and will continue to experience. Unfortunately, unlike a good pizza, most of us want the good stuff (toppings) without attaining the proper foundation (kneading the dough).
Psalm 66:10 says that God has tested us and tried us like silver. To be tried is to be refined. Silver refinement involves the smelting of lead until the impurities separate and then are blown away with a blast of air. And this is done repeatedly until what is left is the purified melted silver.
As a daughter of God, you are called upon to go through trials. And like a pizza crust, your foundation, your soul, has been and will forever be pounded, kneaded, and tossed to and fro, in the hand of God, to both develop your character and prepare you for His work. No experience, circumstance, or hardship ever occurs without God’s permission and it is never in vain.
It’s all about the process, not the progress.
If you are the right metal, your impurities will one day be completely blown away leaving a pure, shiny silver ready to be crafted into any number of fine objects. Or as the foodie in me would put it… If you’re the right pizza dough, one day you’ll be kneaded to the point of perfection, ready to receive the finest toppings to make that perfect pizza!
Are you standing in the way of your own development and progress because you’re too focused on getting to the end of a situation rather than learning through it? Today, reflect on the lessons you can learn right now from the hand of God kneading away in your soul.
Diera Shaw-Mendez is a minister and youth leader at New Beginnings Worship Center, Pennsauken, NJ, and works full-time for an educational nonprofit in Philadelphia. She is wife to Chaplain Juan Mendez and mama to Olivia Joy. She spends her “spare time” running an online invitation design shop on Etsy and writes occasionally for her personal blog, With Style, By Grace. Diera is a God-fearing, Starbucks loving, tech junkie (…in that order!) who simply wants to inspire women to invest in THE beauty that never fades!
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