A crucible is a place or occasion of severe test or trial.
There are many crucibles during life. Some people endure debilitating illness. Others are victims of abuse. There is one kind of crucible that we don’t often speak of: the crucible of the consequences of our own foolish decisions made in the past.
We warn kids to not do this or not do that. But when the decisions are made and the consequences begin, are we prone to conclude that the pain and suffering were deserved, so we won’t show pity, or mercy, or offer a helping hand?
Imagine if Christ were like that. There’d be no hope for any of us who isn’t completely innocent.
My shoulder was dislocated when I was very young. Now that I’m in my 30s, I experience a lot of pain when I make certain movements or when I put too much strain on my shoulder. But that weakness of the flesh is nothing in comparison to crucibles that are due to consequences from disobeying certain of God’s commandments in the past.
I want to be very clear: God forgives the repentant. So, when I talk about the consequences of bad decisions made during youth, I’m not talking about Eternal consequences that are dependent upon whether there has been sincere repentance. Instead, I’m talking about the crucible of heavier trials and temptations than what we might have otherwise endured had a commandment been obeyed instead of disobeyed.
Let’s consider a few examples.
Think about the young woman who smokes that first cigarette contrary to the clear direction from God to not use tobacco. She develops a habit that leads to an addiction. She successfully quits after years of smoking, yet she finds that she has intense cravings every time she smells the scent of cigarette smoke and has to battle all the harder to remain free.
Consider the young man who watches that first porn movie contrary to the clear direction from God to not view pornography. He soon develops a habit of porn and self abuse. He becomes addicted before long. He successfully quits and repents years later, yet he finds that every immodest woman or risqué advertisement he sees acts as a porn trigger to his mind, tempting him to relapse.
The crucible of consequence from foolish decisions is a challenge of life that I assume we all endure. This reminds me of all those adults who reminded me as a kid to make sure and make good decisions while young so I wouldn’t have to deal with regret when old. How come that message doesn’t stick in the minds of more of our youth?
I don’t know the answer. I do know, however, that we can be better examples. Perhaps we can teach with more conviction. Perhaps we can sacrifice our own sins more sincerely. Perhaps we can show our youth that we not only understand how dangerous their world is today (and will help them through it), but that we’re doing all we can to create a better world for their tomorrow.
And perhaps we can be quicker to forgive sins from the past, both for others and ourselves.