Summary: Trials and troubles affect us all. Sometimes however, we don’t understand why God permits difficulty in the lives of His children. Using rock tumbling as a backdrop, this message seeks to illustrate God’s purpose in problems.

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Have you ever noticed the difference between rocks found in a protected cove by the ocean and those found lying on the shore, unprotected from the violence of crashing waves? Even to a casual observer, the difference is plain to see. Rocks found inside the protected cove will be noticeably sharp and rough. In essence, these rocks have been left untouched; they have not experienced the anger and ravages of the ocean’s raging waves and currents, for the waters inside the cove remain relatively tranquil.

On the other hand, rocks found on unprotected shores of the ocean are characteristically smooth, rounded, and uniform. “What’s the difference,” you ask? The difference, simply stated, is friction. These rocks have been tossed about by crashing waves upon the shoreline. They have endured countless storms, during which the abrasive sands of the sea washed over them time and time again. Relentlessly, the sands gnawed away at the rock’s hard exterior, eventually grinding away every sharp or rough surface.

But even more significant is the fact that the same process that produces smoothness eventually produces shine. The same rocks, once rough and dull in appearance, now seem to smile happily back at the sun, as its light is reflected off their smooth, shiny surfaces. Who would have thought that such uniformity and beauty could result from such a violent and tumultuous process? Be aware however, that this delightful result did not happen in one stormy night. In actuality, this process took hundreds of years of storms, which the rocks were powerless to stop; hundreds of years of pounding by the relentless advance of the ocean’s waves; and hundreds of years of enduring the microscopic abrasiveness of the sands of the sea. The important word here is process.

With these thoughts in mind, I wish to share some spiritual insights given me by the Lord via a hobby taken up after receiving a rock tumbler for Christmas. As mentioned above, the oceans, streams, and rivers are the original rock tumblers. Modern-day motorized tumblers simply artificially mimic the process of nature. The major difference between the two systems is that artificial tumbling is more concentrated and uniform in its action upon the rocks being processed. For as much as six weeks, the rocks are tumbled twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, with only minimal breaks in between, to check the progress of the rocks and to change grit in the tumbler for the next stage of the process. So what nature does in hundreds of years, the rock tumbling machine condenses into about six weeks. However, the spiritual applications to the life of a child of God are what I wish to convey today. Let me share some of these with you.

The Selection Process

Before one begins the tumbling process, naturally, rocks must be selected. These stones are usually chosen simply because the one making the selection finds something of interest in them, such as shape, color, size, or markings. All of the stones in their original state are rough and crude in texture and dull in appearance. Only the chooser knows the value of and reason for his choice. Not everyone sees even the same object alike.

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