The secret of turning lead to gold is part of the legends that make up folk lore and stories we tell children around campfires. But what if it really worked? The person who discovered this may well become another Warren Buffett or Bill Gates. It can be done, but at what cost?
Turning lead to gold is one thing, but turning sorrows and troubles to joy exceeds that by far. Even better, turning evil to good is the best thing that could possibly be done on planet earth.
Can it be done? How?
It was the best day of my life. It was the worst day of my life.
I was attending Multnomah Bible College (Multnomah University) in Portland, Oregon, taking the Journalism minor courses in one year. After corresponding for a year with Dan Work, I knew he was in the area and would most likely come to see me.
And he did. I enjoyed his company for a couple of hours as I showed him around the campus. As he left, I knew he was the one God had for me, and my heart soared with joy even though I was sad to see him go.
A few hours later, I received a message that sent me to the depths of despair and grief.
My older sister, Joyce, had been in a serious car/train accident and was in the ICU ward, her life hanging by a thread. Through the kindness of a friend, I boarded an airplane and soon joined my family around her bedside.
Her injuries were so extensive that the doctors gave us little hope. We prayed, waited, listened to the daily reports, and entreated God as a stream of friends and pastors came, sat with us, said their prayers and left.
The vigil lasted for a week, just before Christmas. We took turns watching her two small children as the days dragged on.
We did everything we knew that would clear the way for God to answer our prayers – confessed our sin, got old grievances forgiven between us, read the Bible and claimed promises. The doctors, too, tried every tactic and medical aid they could to revive her and bring her back to us.
But God said no.
She slipped from this world and into the next while we stood around her. Grief like I’d never known swooped down upon me, yet something buoyed me up, something kept a song going in my heart. That something was faith — faith that we would see her again, that God knew what He was doing, that all things work together for good (Rom.8:28), even the evil of death.
One night, God allowed me to see her again. She was sitting with us as we talked about heaven. She was whole, happy, smiling. Her face glowed with a light that was unearthly.
My family took comfort in the knowledge that she was not only okay, but that she was beyond all suffering and pain in this earth, enjoying the delights of heaven beyond anything we can imagine. She was the blessed one.
To this day, I don’t know why God allowed my sister to die at age 25. Yet I know that He has brought good through it. The evil and harm that befell us turned to great good in the hands of my loving heavenly Father as we chose to entrust it to Him and not indulge in bitterness.
God turned lead into gold in my life. Evil into good. Sorrow into joy.
Why does evil or harm happen people who love God?
Doesn’t the Bible state that no evil will invade the lives of those who trust in Him? (Psalm 91) Will my prayer of faith remove all the difficulties from my life? Doesn’t the Bible promise that when I pray with faith, I will receive the answer? (John 14:13)
On TV, the so-called evangelists and faith healers preach it as truth. We hear it in many churches. If you were to attend seminary or Bible school or take a course online in the Bible, you might see or hear it preached.
If you trust God sincerely with all your heart, and if you have enough faith, you will not experience pain, suffering, sickness, nor will you lack for anything money can buy.
But is this God’s truth?
We struggle with this when cancer hits. Or when children die. Or when people are subjected to great suffering. Or when a gunman decides to kill as many as he can in a crowded store, shopping mall or concert.
Part of the confusion arises from the fact that the Bible teaches that a true believer in Christ will be protected from harm, and it also teaches that he will suffer many difficulties and problems.
Let’s look at this from a different perspective. I’ve taken these thoughts from a book written by Michael Wilcock entitled, The Message of Psalms 73-150.
In Psalm 91, Moses extolls and praises God for His faithfulness to keep all who trust in Him safe from harm or evil. “No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent (dwelling).” Psa. 91:10 This verse is a summary of the first ten verses of that marvelous psalm.
Yet in a previous psalm, the song writer seems to say the exact opposite. Psalm 44:22, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
The Apostle Paul wrote these words, Rom. 8:35-37, “Who will separate us from the love of God? Will tribulation, or distress, or peril, or sword? For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered. But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”
Lead turned to gold. Gold refined in the furnace.
These Scriptures seem to be in opposition to one another.
In the 91st psalm, the writer says, no harm will befall you when you put your trust in God.
Psalm 44:22 says we are being put to death continually, and the Apostle Paul echoes that same truth.
We are continually being put to death, slaughtered without thought or conscience like sheep destined to become sacrifices. And then Paul states that nothing, not even the worst kind of evil imagined and performed by depraved mankind, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
This implies that harm will invade our lives. It may even kill us for the sake of Christ.
Had Paul experienced this? Yes, he did. In fact, he experienced a lifetime of it.
II Cor. 6:4-10, Paul writes, “…in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God.”
He goes on to write (v. 8-10) that he and his team continued to serve God even though they were dishonored, had evil reports spread about them, were regarded as deceivers, and even though they were unknown, dying, punished (by the world), sorrowful, and poor.
They had nothing, yet they made many rich; they were poor as church mice, yet they possessed all things.
These two passages (Psa. 44:22 and Psa. 91) are making the same point, and it is counter cultural to our way of thinking. Evil is present with us, even inside us. Harm does befall a child of God. All who trust in God will face difficulties in life; some will even face death for their faith.
Yet God has promised to keep us from all harm.
Let’s look again at Rom. 8:37. Paul inserts this important message from God: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Lead turned to gold.
Did you catch that? In all these things…
All what things? Tribulation. Persecution. Famine. Nakedness. Peril. Sword.
I could add sickness, lack of finances, fatigue, problems with people. I have not been miraculously saved from a lot of harm and evil that has beset my life.
But notice that Paul writes, in. In all these things. We are not saved from them; we are saved in them, as we experience them.
Our modern-day theologians would take exception to that.
Many teachers and preachers say that whatever you ask of God, if you ask in faith, God is obliged to give it to you. God has become the genie-god, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the biggest Santa Claus of all time. He, according to this teaching, will answer your request no matter what you pray. Pray for a million dollars. He is obliged to give it to you.
But, wait. What if you pray with all the faith you can muster and still don’t get the answer you wanted?
False teachers say it is because of your little faith. So, you take the blame for your loved one dying, for losing your house and job, for the illness that robs you of life and vitality. Besides the grief, pain, and difficulty that we normally experience with these things, they have now loaded you with another huge burden to carry.
The Bible teaches that we suffer all these things, and yet we are overcomers. More than conquerors. Blessed beyond measure. Richer than the richest king. Wiser than Solomon.
Michael Wilcock writes, “The negatives are transmuted into positives; by a divine alchemy the lead turns to gold.”
Lead turned to gold. Wow. That staggers my imagination! Yet God is able to do this when we put our trust in Him during our times of trouble.
We read it all through the Bible. Harm happens to God’s people. We are not exempt from trouble, be it a little thing like breaking a fingernail or not getting that prime parking spot, to big things like a house burning down, a prognosis of terminal cancer, or a child dying in a drowning accident.
This is what the Prince of Preachers, Charles Hadden Spurgeon, wrote on this subject, “It is impossible that any ill should happen to the man who is beloved of the Lord…. Ill to him is no ill, but only good in a mysterious form. Losses enrich him, sickness is his medicine, reproach is his honour, death is his gain.”
In Romans 8:28, we find that beloved verse, “And we know that God causes all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Spurgeon wrote on this: “No evil in the strict sense can happen to him, for everything is overruled for good.”
How can we aid this process by which lead is turned to gold — evil is turned into good? If we can discover this secret, my friends, we have found the Golden Goose, the Silver Chalice, the Trillion Dollar lottery – the greatest treasure in the world. Better than that, we can find peace and deep-down joy in the troubles that befall us. We can survive.
There are three strategies that I have found that work for me when I am faced with difficulties in life.
1. Confess sin and resist it.
Evil is sin. When we recognize sin, we confess it and resist it.
How can we know what is evil? By watching all the R-rated movies available? By looking at it, thinking about it, and doing it? By mixing with people who are evil speakers and evil thinkers?
No. We recognize evil when we know the Word of God. But it goes beyond that. We need more than a passing acquaintance, rather, an intimate knowledge of the Bible. We need to read it, study it, memorize it, and obey it. We need to make it the very fiber of our existence.
The Bible teaches us what evil is, what the Lord hates and considers an abomination, and what will destroy our souls. So, when we are in the Word, we come to hate it, too. We avoid it, teach others to avoid it, and resist it with all our strength.
When we recognize sin in our own lives and confess it to God, He is faithful and just to forgive us. (I John 1:9) It is by this means that we overcome sin. Lead is turned to gold.
We do not tolerate sin. We do not play with sin. We do not allow sin into our lives or the lives of our children. We resist it, just as we do the devil. I Pet. 5:9, “But resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
2. Accept the trials.
We must recognize the discipline and trials that come from God and accept them.
God gives us trials and difficulties to discipline us and to train us in the way of righteousness. This is not sin, although it may point to a sin that we should confess and turn from.
Some of these are short-lived and some are long-lived. It may be the constant burden of not making enough money to cover your living expenses. It may be living with someone who tries you at every turn. It may be a long illness. It may be a job you dislike.
Sickness is not sin. We don’t resist and refuse sickness, as some teach. We pray that God will heal, yes, if it is His will. We see a doctor and use all the medical wisdom there is to help. But we don’t resist it.
In all of these difficulties, we need to see the hand of God and we need to accept it, refuse self-pity and complaints, and grow in our faith through it, clinging to God’s unchanging hand.
James says to “count it all joy”, (Jam. 1:3), Pet 1:6-7 says we “greatly rejoice” in our salvation, even though for a time we may be “distressed by various trials so that the proof (genuineness) of your faith being much more precious than gold… may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Pet. 1:6-7)
How can we rejoice even though we are in “heaviness” or “distress”? By trusting in the living God and the fact that He will see us safely Home, and that all that comes from Him is good because He loves us so much.
Lead is turned to gold.
This quote I found in an exposition on Peter from Spurgeon:
“God has never promised that we would miss the storm, but He has promised that we would make the harbor!”
Even the great ship, the Titanic, did not make it home. But we will.
The sweet assurance that God will never allow us to perish, that He keeps His own to the end, and that heaven is just over there, around that corner, through that thin veil – well, these truths, my friend, will keep you going through every difficulty, and even more, they will give you joy.
3. Trust God in all of life’s difficulties.
Some things are natural to our earthly experience – things like accidents, tiredness, sickness, annoying people, traffic, mechanical problems, heat or cold, running out of gas, a computer crashing, the phone bill getting mixed up, lost keys, wallets, phones. You get the picture.
God wants to be an integral part of your everyday life. Bring all these issues to Him. He knows where you phone is, how to find that location when you’re lost (better than Siri!), and how to fix that stubborn computer problem. Rejoice always. Pray about everything. Give thanks in everything. I Thess. 5:16-17
Grace flows from our lives to others when we confess our sin, when we forgive, when we accept God’s discipline through trials, and when we trust Him down to the tiniest detail of our lives.
Lead turned to gold. Sorrow to joy. Despair to hope.
Years ago, a wealthy Christian Japanese businessman traveled overseas and left his house and business in the care of his son. While he was gone, a man broke into his house, murdered his son and stole a lot of his things.
When he returned, they had found the man. He was prosecuted and sentenced to prison. The businessman would visit him every day and share the love of Jesus with him. He told him he forgave him. When the young man came up for parole, the businessman said he would take him to his house.
Eventually, the businessman adopted the young fellow as his son.
This is grace.
This is living above evil, above the trials, difficulties, and problems of our lives, allowing God to turn lead into gold.
My prayer is that each of us would find this grace.