Shaped Through Friction for Victory | September 25th, 2017
The year was 1939. The Great Depression was ending and fashion magazines were beginning to be printed in color, giving clothing and jewelry a bright, cheerful look. This greatly helped to boost morale during these troublesome times.
Hollywood actresses wore eye-catching, colorful costume jewelry on-screen and in the magazines. Their sparkly jewelry made quite a statement. It was often created with rhinestones to look like gemstones which gave the illusion of wealth and prosperity.
Women of this era wanted that glamorous look without the high price tag. So these designs were replicated into jewelry that was affordable for women of all social classes. It was then sold at five and dime stores like Woolworth’s. It did not take long before costume jewelry became extremely fashionable and popular.
September’s Birthstone, Sapphire
As a collector of vintage costume jewelry, I have come across some of the most gorgeous rhinestone pieces that could easily be mistaken for authentic gemstones. Here is one I found that looks like it was made with costly sapphires which I repurposed into a ring:
The sapphire is September’s traditional birthstone. The name sapphire comes from the Latin word saphirus and the Greek word sapheiros, both meaning “blue.” This is the color for which sapphire is most known.
Sapphire is considered one of the four precious gemstones which also include diamond, ruby, and emerald. It is a variety of the rock-forming mineral corundum which typically contains traces of elements (impurities) such as iron, magnesium, chromium, and titanium.
Although sapphire is usually recognized for its rich blue color, these elements allow for sapphire to be found in other colors as well such as yellow, purple, pink, orange, and green. These are called “fancy” sapphires.
Pink sapphires, for example, deepen in color the more chromium they have which increases the value. If it deepens too much, it becomes red which classifies it as a ruby, one of the most valuable gemstones. If it has two or more colors, it is called a “parti-colored” sapphire commonly found in Australia. Interestingly, sapphires cannot be created synthetically. They only occur naturally.
Huge sapphire deposits are located in countries such as Thailand, Sri Lanka, Burma, Madagascar, and in North America in the state of Montana.
Sapphire from Madagascar
Mohs Hardness Scale
In 1812, German geologist and mineralogist named Friedrich Mohs developed a hardness scale for minerals so that a mineral of unknown hardness could be tested against a group of ten index minerals to see where it would rank. The test compared the resistance of a mineral to being scratched. He selected ten minerals that ranged from very soft (talc) to very hard (diamond) and rated them on a scale from one to ten.
The Mohs Hardness Scale has been widely used throughout the world for over 200 years:
Mineral / Hardness
Talc – 1
Gypsum – 2
Calcite – 3
Fluorite – 4
Apatite – 5
Orthoclase – 6
Quartz – 7
Topaz – 8
Corundum – 9
Diamond – 10
Corundum as an Abrasive
As you can see from the scale, corundum is an exceptionally hard material falling just below the hardness of diamond. Because sapphire is a variety of corundum, it is easy to cut without having it crumble and it can also put up with a lot of wear, making it a desirable gemstone to use in a jewelry setting.
The incredible hardness of corundum makes it especially useful as an abrasive, a material that is used to shape a softer material by wearing part of it away through friction. Corundum is crushed and processed to remove its impurities and then made into granules and powders which are used in tools such as polishing compounds, sandpapers, and grinding wheels.
One of the most common uses for natural corundum with which most of us are familiar is an emery board or nail file:
Abrasive papers are glued to a thin piece of cardboard and then used as a tool to grind down and shape the edges of fingernails. Emery boards got their name during the 1800s when crushed emery stone, very rich in corundum, was used as the abrasive. Today’s emery boards are only made with synthetic corundum but are often still sold as “emery boards.”
Life is Full of Abrasives
As we go through life, we all experience different kinds of abrasives. They come in the form of trials, afflictions, heartaches, illness, disappointments, difficulties, trauma, grief, shame, and guilt just to name a few.
Some abrasives are no fault of our own such as having a loved one taken from us too early, suffering from a long-term illness, or not getting married by the age we had set for ourselves to have walked down the aisle with that perfect partner.
Others, however, are a direct result of the choices we make that do not honor God. The friction that takes place from each of these kinds of abrasives shapes us in a unique way and often times for a new purpose in life. No matter what the reason for the abrasive, God can use it to shape us so we reflect His character.
Our first reaction to an abrasive is often anger, bitterness, or perhaps even feelings of hopelessness. Over time, we can get stuck in these thought patterns, incredibly damaging to our heart, mind, and spirit which keep us from being able to see how God can find beauty in our difficult circumstance while making us stronger in our faith.
Releasing Thought Patterns of Bondage
My husband and I just came back from a week of vacationing in Asheville, North Carolina. I swam nearly every morning in the beautiful indoor pool of our hotel.
On one side of the pool was a wall that was all glass. When I would get there early in the morning and take a look outside, there was nothing to see but a heavy mist hiding everything behind it.
But by the time I was just about finished swimming, the mist would begin to clear and I could then see the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains dotted with thousands of pine trees in the distance. It was an incredible scenic view that I never would have known existed unless the mist lifted.
Think of your anger, bitterness, or hopelessness as that dense mist that hides the beauty God is able to find in whatever it is causing friction in your life to lead you to a new purpose and a closer relationship with Him. It is never God’s desire for you to get stuck in thought patterns that cause bondage. Only after you let go and release it all to Him will He be able to give you complete freedom and show you His grace by blessing you with victory.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57
I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say, “I grew so much closer to God when everything was going smoothly in my life and I had no pain or suffering.”
It is usually through the abrasives that you grow closer to God. You begin to give Him more of your attention as you see your need for Him. You cry out to Him for help, relying on Him to get you through the pain of your difficult circumstance. And your faith becomes strengthened as you see Him work in your life for your good.
The Apostle Paul experienced a life full of abrasives, one after the other…
I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked.
Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. 2 Corinthians 11:23b-27
Through each abrasive, Paul became stronger as he learned to see the good that God intended for his life in order for others to see the power of Christ in him…
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Our Choices Can Lead to Abrasive Consequences
Often times, it is our own choices in life that result in painful, abrasive consequences. These are choices that go against God’s Word. When we lose our awareness of God and begin to act as if He does not exist, we suffer from the consequences of making our own choices without His blessing. It is our suffering, however, that reminds us of our need for Him. That suffering is His mercy for us so we will come back to Him.
As our Creator, He knows what is best for our lives. When we choose to value what He values, we mature spiritually and experience His incredible blessings that He can’t wait to give to us because He loves us so much!
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8
A dear friend of mine made the choice at the age of 18 to have an abortion. Over the years, she began to feel a heavy burden of guilt and shame for terminating her pregnancy. She knew God loved her but could not accept that He fully forgave her. The turning point for her was when she found out about an after-abortion recovery ministry called Someone Cares, a 12-week study of God’s plan for women who have experienced the pain of abortion using a “Forgiven and Set Free” program which helps them to discover freedom, hope, healing, and restoration.
After completing the program, my friend told me she no longer feels stuck in her guilt and shame and has complete freedom to finally move forward and to even help other women with their post-abortion healing journey. Christ has given her victory over her pain which she is now using to glorify Him through her new purpose.
She shared one of her most favorite Scripture verses with me which has been a great reminder of God’s character and love for her through this incredibly abrasive experience:
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:12
God Uses Our Abrasives for Our Good
God uses the abrasives in our lives for so many different reasons. Often times, we can look back after enduring a difficult trial and can see how God was able to accomplish something good through it. Here are a few of the ways He uses our sufferings for our good:
- Help us recognize and remove sinful behaviors from our life
- Strengthen our relationship with Him
- Give us a reason to depend on His grace
- Increase our wisdom and discernment
- Produce perseverance and character
- Build our trust and hope in Christ
- Experience freedom and joy
- Boast of victory for God’s glory
Just as corundum is used for grinding and shaping, God uses the friction of life’s abrasives to shape us so we can be given a new purpose, reflecting Him with the beauty of freedom through each miraculous victory.
Sparkler #1: Prayer
Whenever you go through a trial, pray for freedom from thought patterns of bondage so you can experience God’s incredible victory in your life.
Sparkler #2: Action
Make choices that honor God and help you to reflect His character. Read His Word daily so you will know how to value what He values.
Sparkler #3: Challenge
Look back to past difficulties in your life and write down the ways God has used your sufferings for your good and perhaps even for a new purpose.
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