(By Jackline Nyakundi)

There was a couple who loved to visit England and shop in the beautiful stores. They both liked antiques and pottery-especially tea cups.
One day in a tiny shop they saw an exquisite tea cup. Oh may we look at that one? they asked. We've never seen one quite so beautiful.

As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the tea cup spoke.

I haven't always been a tea cup, you know. There was a time when I was raw, ugly clay. But my master picked me up and squeezed me over and over until I cried out, let me alone! But he only smiled, not yet.

Then he placed me on a wheel,the tea cup continued, and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. Stop it! m getting dizzy! I screamed.  But the master said, Not yet.

Next he put me in the oven. I never dreamed such heat. I wondered why he wanted to incinerate me, and I yelled and knocked at the door. I could see him through the window and I could read his lips as He shook his head, Not Yet.

Finally the door opened. He took me out of the oven and put me on the shelf to cool. There, that's better, I breathed.

But my relief didn't last very long, because the next thing I knew, he was brushing me and painting me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag.

Stop it, stop it! I begged. He only nodded, Not yet.  Then suddenly he put me back in the oven, but this was much worse than the first time. This time the oven was twice as hot and I knew I would suffocate.
I begged, I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. All the time I could see him through the opening shaking his head and saying, Not yet.

Then I realized there was no hope. I would never make it. I was ready to give up.
At that moment, the door finally opened and he took me out and set me gently back on the shelf. Then, an hour later he handed me a mirror and said, Now look at yourself.

Curiously I peered into the mirror-and gasped at my reflection. That's not me! I exclaimed, It can't be me! It's beautiful!

I want you to understand, he said, that I know how much it hurts to be molded and shaped, but if I had stopped, you would have dried into an ugly lump of clay. I know that it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumpled. I know that it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn't put you there, you would have had no strength. I know that the fumes were terrible when I brushed and painted you, but if I hadn't done that you would never reached your potential, nor would you have developed your own beautiful character. And if I hadn't put you back in the oven a second time, you would have eventually leaked and your color would  have faded away. But now you are a strong, beautiful teacup fit for use on the finest table.

You are now what I had in mind when I first formed you.
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 1 Peter 4:12-13

Perhaps you feel like this tea cup, you feel like a hard, cold lump of clay. Perhaps you feel you are on a wheel that has gone round and around, and you have gotten dizzy and ill at your stomach from the circumstances that surround you. Perhaps you feel like you are in that oven, that the door is closed and you cannot stand the heat any longer. Perhaps you have been set aside, put on the shelf, waiting, and no one knows you are there. Perhaps you feel that you have been put back in the furnace and the heat has been revved up seven times hotter. Friend, you are being purified, tested and tried. God may be choosing you for higher ministry in the furnace of affliction.

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