Michael Phelps continues to amaze us during this year’s summer Olympics in Rio. The 31-year-old successful swimmer has already added three gold medals, bringing his career total to 21. 

Phelps has remained remarkably elite throughout five consecutive Olympic games – breaking countless records and captivating the sports world every four years.

When looking back at his career, two words come to mind: gold and trials. The many gold medals wrapped around his neck represent his awesome accomplishments in this competitive sport, but Phelps has also had to deal with difficult trials along the way.

Phelps has had issues with his swim coach, his father, drugs and alcohol, and knowing how to handle fame and pressure. But while being tested in and out of the water, over and over again, Phelps was actually growing and becoming even stronger than before. Although we believed his career was over, he has shown his capability to bounce back in an incredible way.

The actual gold medals Phelps has earned have also gone through a similar process of being tested by fire. They’ve been subjected to intense heat, which allow impurities to rise to the top and be removed. Sometimes gold has to go back in the furnace again to make sure it’s truly refined and proven pure before presented on the Olympic podium.

Gold provides such a great illustration of what we go through in our own lives. As followers of Jesus, we know we are being refined through multiple trials and difficulties. God tests us and transforms us through this “intense heat.”

The Bible explains this process in 1 Peter 1:7 (NLT): “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”

In swimming, you must go through team trials before earning the opportunity to win Olympic gold. In our own lives, we may want to bypass the trials, but God always uses them to grow, purify, and test us. Today, let’s embrace the reality that our faith, like gold, needs to be refined. I’m Bryce Johnson and you can unpack that!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I acknowledge that my faith is more precious than gold, but like gold, it requires refining. I’m thankful that You use trials to test my faith and make it more genuine. Please give me the strength to see the challenges as a pathway to a purer heart as You do Your work in me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.