It’s interesting that the phrase “put through the wringer” usually has negative connotations to it. The phrase itself is actually referring to something that’s helpful. Back in the day, before washers and dryers, there was a gizmo called a wringer. Its purpose was to squeeze all of the excess water out of a garment of clothing after it was washed. This was useful for two reasons:

  1. The excess water would be full of dirt and residue from the clothing. If the bulk of this water was not removed quickly, the dirt and remaining residue would dry on the garment.
  2. It helped the garment dry faster so that it could be put back into use relatively quickly.

Now, when we use this term in our everyday comings and goings, we are usually using it in reference to tough situations that we’ve gone through. Difficult situations. Undesirable situations. We say things like “My boss really put me through the wringer today!” or “This year’s been so tough, I feel like I’ve been put through the wringer!” Something to that effect. Well, it’s interesting, but we only typically use this phrase in relation to half of its meaning! Think about it! Wringers are helpful. Wringers are used to assist in the cleaning of dirty laundry. Wringers help increase usability of the item being wringed (wrung?). The garment of clothing gets gets squished going through, but comes out the other side clean, dry, not smelly, and usable!

So, I wonder if we could take this phrase, and more commonly use it for expressing our wonder, gratitude and joy at how God has put us through the wringer. So many of us complain about our experiences, focusing on the pain, harping on the negative, that, unfortunately, we all too often forget that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. In addition, James 1 tells us that our trials should cause us to fill up with joy. Why?

Well, I think it’s kinda like this: What teacher doesn’t test her students? What coach doesn’t drive his team into ever harder challenges testing wills and sharpening skills? What good pastor doesn’t teach hard things to his congregation? How much does God really care about conforming you into the image of his Son? And to what extent was Christ unwilling to go in order to attain our salvation, that we would one day see him, and look just like him? God, in this way, is a lot like Jack Bauer, we have no idea how far he is willing to go to acquire our cooperation! You see, being conformed into the image of Jesus is about more than just being nice. It’s about being nice when you want to scream at someone in aggrevation. It’s about more than giving when we have excess. It’s about giving in faith all that we have to God and His purposes all the time (see Mark 12:41-45). It’s about more than just singing hymns on Sunday. It’s about living my life in such a way that worship becomes endemic.

What must God do in order to work these things into his people? Well, I would point to the wringer as my illustration. It’s not necessarily what gets worked into you, but what gets worked out of you that matters. We were meant to live as children of God. We were meant to reflect the imago Dei to the world. That image, that nature, is in there for all children of God, and as he works the life of Christ into us, there must be also a working out of the dirt, residue and imputrities that are in us, and the happens by going through the wringer.

Next time you’re going through something really tough (which will probably be tomorrow), think about how you’re going through the wringer and take a moment at the end of the day, before you drift off to sleep, to just consider possibility that, just maybe, the wringer is a good thing.