Have you ever heard the expression “tough as nails?” In some cases, this expression is applied to a person who displays a fearless personality and exhibits no hesitancy in the verbal expression of their thoughts. Military drill instructors or drill sergeants are often perceived as having “no nonsense,” “tough as nails” type of personalities.
When you refer to a person as “tough as nails,” it is worth taking a moment to reflect on the process of how nails are made. Nails are made of carbon steel, and depending upon the type, contain a significant amount of carbon content. Higher-carbon steels are heated up to 400° F (200° C).
The nail begins as a carbon steel wire approximately 2.84 millimeters in diameter. The process includes cutting the wire into thinner rods, applying machine pressure to the rods, sending the nails through a nail-forming blade, and imbedding the nails into plastic rolls. Additional time is needed for cooling the residue applied to the nails. Extra steps are added to the process for making different types of nails. There are hundreds of types of nails, but they all have a purpose.
The life journey has a similar process that includes heat (agony, pain, suffering, discomfort), pressure (hardships, sorrow, unhappiness) and cooling (waiting, sadness, patience). This list sounds like a “What’s the point in my being here?” Let’s get to the good part quickly.
The answer to the question is: “Because you are growing.” Babies fall when trying to walk; children skin their knee or even break a bone while playing; young people fail a test in school; teenagers break up with their boyfriend/girlfriend. But everything changes. Babies learn to walk; children learn to participate in various team sports and perhaps win Olympic medals; teenagers graduate from college, and maybe later walk down the aisle for marriage. In other words, they learned through their gutter balls.
Men and women in the military all go through a process known as “basic training” or “boot camp.” It is a basic, intense training which helps to discipline the mind, strengthen the body, and teaches skills to save your life. This training is necessary for all our soldiers who keep us safe.
When you go to the grocery store, if you are like many of us, you look for fruits or vegetables, without brown or withered leaves, yellowed stalks or bruises. You go past these and look for the produce that looks the freshest. But sometimes it’s not possible to get completely unblemished fruit or vegetables. Sometimes they have a sale on these less than perfect items, so you buy them and take them home. You tear off the withered leaves and you cut off any bruises and you use them to make a great meal!
That is exactly what happens in our life journey. This is how God sees us. We are imperfect but useable. We are changing every day, not only physically, but we are growing spiritually within our souls. You may not understand the reason for the heat, or pressure, or the waiting when things don’t seem to be getting better. But like a nail, you are going through the process to make you strong and useable.
Each time you go through a less than positive situation, it is a nail-making moment in your life and there is a lesson to be learned. It is a great opportunity for you to exercise patience and strengthen your faith in God so you may become the person you were created to be. (James 1:4)