This hit home one night recently when I got up to comfort a fussy baby. After an hour of comforting to no avail, the tears were streaming down my face. "Why, Lord?" I called out to the darkness, "Why does serving you have to be so hard?" It didn't seem fair. It should be easy to serve God, not hard. It should be easy to live in the way that he designed us to live, not seemingly counterintuitive.
I don't have answers to all of this. I still mostly feel that following Jesus should be easy. But I do know that God uses steps of faith to refine us, and he says this about the refining process,
"Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver, I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another" Isaiah 48:10-11In the absence of bold, underlined or italicized font in the ancient Hebrew written language, God emphasizes his point by repetition. For my own sake I am refining you, says God. Period. It is for God's glory and by his power and wisdom and goodness, so who are we to question? (see also Romans 9:20)
But we should also take comfort. One does not waste time trying to refine a rock. One only refines a mineral of value, such as silver or gold. Christian, God sees you as something of value. He sees you as worth his time and effort to refine you, to make you more precious and of more value.
So give in. Don't resist. Don't struggle against the refining fire. Allow him to burn off the dross, and rejoice to see it go. Rejoice that God would count you worthy of refining. Rejoice that you didn't have to force your own innate goodness to be worthy of God's blessing, but that He made you worthy by purchasing you with his blood.