They show up like magic when others are hurting and do whatever needs doing. They find their way in any kitchen, heating up casseroles seasoned with love and tears, stirring pots of vegetables flavored with fatback, slicing tall layer cakes and mile high meringue pies, sinking their arms in a sink full of suds, and grabbing up a basket of laundry on their way out the door to be returned clean, mended, ironed, and folded before the house of mourning even realizes the clothes are missing.
They will take anyone’s children in their laps and dry up tears, listen to sad stories, and tell a few funny ones to bring back the smiles. They bandage skinned knees and aren’t too prissy to change a needful baby’s diapers, no matter who it belongs to. They will even offer a little discipline on little bottoms that think since Mama’s not around no one else cares—they care. They can play tag, hide and seek, and red rover, make mudpies and sand castles, and then go home and finish whatever needs doing, no matter how late it gets. They will stay up all night with anyone who needs it, then get up and go again as if nothing has happened.
How do they do it? The women I grew up watching had one magic ingredient—love—love that involved selflessness, strength, and purpose, and was borne from the heat of life. Maybe living in the South made that come more naturally, just as the southern heat and humidity makes the sweat pour more profusely. But then I am sure that some of my Northern friends could tell stories about their mamas, too. Maybe it's not the south that makes these women like this—maybe it's the fact that they are real women, not divas or prima donnas.
God applies the heat to us as well. In Isa 48:10, God told His people, Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. Affliction hurts. It burns in a flash and roasts in constant pain and fear. But eventually, the heat refines our souls and makes them pure and strong.
What, you think it unfair that God would do this? Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If He would do it to His own Son, who are we to get some sort of special dispensation? In fact, the special dispensation is in the trials. If God never put us through these things, we would be weaklings, always babes, never maturing to spirituality. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
There is another result from all this fiery testing, perhaps the best result of all. God speaks of a group of His people in Zech 13:9, saying, And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'They are my people'; and they will say, 'The LORD is my God.'" I will go through whatever it takes to have Him declare me His child and answer my call, won’t you?
Even now, as the long hot summer approaches, I am ready for it. It reminds me that just as the southern heat strengthens my body, the spiritual heat can work wonders on my soul. I know from watching both of my grandmothers, and my mother and aunts. I know from working side by side with other women as we toil for our families and neighbors, and for the Lord, too, as we serve our brethren.
You need to become comfortable with the fire. If you can’t stand the heat, the kitchen is the least of your worries.
Each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 1 Corinthians 3:13