"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver..." Malachi 3:3
At times, we hear people say they are ‘in the fire.’ This is Christian-ese for ‘in a hard trial.’ We know that all things are used for our good and God's glory, but the fire can seem too harsh for us. Some fires seem too hot to survive and too long to endure. God is the Refiner of all of His children. He refines in love and in perfection. We can trust the works of our loving Father.
WHAT IS REFINING?
Refining is the process of removing impurities from a precious metal. The metal is placed in a furnace, and fire will heat it. With the high heat, the worthless parts are melted off and separated from the once mixed metal. The object being refined is always one the refiner thinks is precious enough to purify. He sees value in placing the object into the furnace. He knows the beautiful reward of pure metal.
WAYS OF REFINING
God is the Refiner for Christians. We often don’t like it, because it interferes with our normal happiness and ease of living. We like to be comfortable. When trials actually hit, it disturbs our current way of life and causes distress. We are anxious, scared, and confused, along with many other emotions.
We must remember that our Refiner is One of Love (Romans 5:8). He has a purpose for placing us in trials. It is not to harm us, though it feels like it in the fire…because it actually does hurt.
You can’t possibly be put in the furnace without feeling the hot fire. This makes us want to retreat to unhealthy ways of coping in a hard season. If we see the good benefits of the trial, I think the furnace will be less hated.
Gracious and loving hands places us in the fire. He stands to watch, never taking His eyes off of us! His correction is to make us more like Christ (2 Timothy 3:16). Though we would rather dodge the fire, we need it! Because of this need, we should not resist! Well, how does He refine us? There are many ways God places us in the Refiner’s fire.
Pains, aches, and disease can be used as a furnace for our good. This is one the Lord has used for me. It only (ONLY) took me 6 months within my sickness to realize it was for my good. I am not saying God is an angry and uncaring God who brings sickness to His people.
He is a gentle Father. He is a caring Shepherd. God loves us more than our minds can allow us to understand. We can only see the edges of His love. However, I have a personal testimony of God’s use of sickness in His people.
When I first God sick, I did not doubt God, but I didn’t understand what was going on. I didn’t understand why He would snatch me from a normal life of a 25-year-old woman, pursuing a degree in ministry and seeking to know Him more.
I have once heard that every person God uses goes through a testing season. Well, this was definitely one of them. I look back over my pitiful journaling and can see how much God has used the sickness for my good.
Sickness will make you seek God more than you ever have; at least that was true for me! I had nowhere else to go but to Him. My group of doctors gave me necessary medicine and prescribed me a strong prescription of heavy resting!
No matter the sickness, it gives us plenty of time (sometimes even while in physical pain) to see our hearts. We have time that we wouldn’t normally have to pray, read and learn more of God’s promises.
We plead and cry out to Him because we have no one else to turn to for healing. He is standing and watching us, with care, as He sees the impurities of pride and the trust in our strength melt away. He sees the precious metal underneath and will take us out right when He judges the process as finished.
God will allow us to have a need that we can’t fulfill. It can be anything. However, it is usually something of great value to us! We may try to scrape up all the pennies we have, but it still is not enough. There is just no way to provide for what we need.
God uses this time to teach us the important lesson of trust! We can, unknowingly, get comfortable with our stuff and easy ability to get what we need. We then trust that we are able of providing. If we forget the source, a furnace can be used to melt off the self-trust.
In times of my great need, it has caused me to pray on bended knees for the Owner of all to provide, as He promised He would. If you are in a season of need, allow yourself the thought that maybe God is trying to strengthen your faith in His ability and love in providing for your lack. When He does provide, your trust will be so much stronger than it was before the fire. Some impurities will have melted off, leaving you more like Christ!
God can use grief for our good. He does not like the effects of sin. He hates sin, and it is sin that causes physical death for us all. He does not delight in death. Jesus wept for Lazarus (John 11:35). However, death (a consequence of sin) exists, and God uses it for good!
How amazing is that? He uses the ugliest of things for good! Watching a loved one pass is rough. God stands right beside you when you are grieving. He sees your tears. Still, good can certainly come from this furnace.
My little brother died just five months ago. He hit a tree and didn’t survive the blow. It was unexpected. One day He was here, 2 hours of life in the hospital, and then gone! I can’t tell you how hard it is to grieve. God didn’t rejoice in his death, but it was a fire for me. I learned/am learning that He gives us gifts, but they can be taken.
We must remember that all, but Him, can be removed in seconds. That kind of fire, will make the Christian cling and pray and seek like a hungry child. The need of anything other than God has melted away, and we see all things as gifts while holding tightly to Christ, as our forever friend and Savior.
As hard as it may be, we must remember there is a purpose. It is to take away sin from us. This is a good thing! As believers, we have been saved by Jesus. We are clean in the Father’s eyes. Yet, we are still being sanctified, as we walk as pilgrims through this journey called life.
His method involves pain. We like our sin, or else we wouldn’t have it! Sin pleases our sinful nature. The dirt of sin can quickly attach to us. Being put in the fire by loving hands is needed! We must ask Him to help us believe it to be a good thing.
He tells us that correction is a sign of being His child (Hebrew 12:6). A good father corrects the child and teaches her the right way of living. God is our perfect Father. He loves us by allowing trials. They teach us more about the state of our hearts and His sufficiency.
If God has you here right now, don’t grow weary, don’t give up. Don’t be afraid of the furnace; it is for your good. He is making you holy as He is holy. There is a quote I love that describes trials well.
“Blessed, indeed, are they in whom the features of the Elder Brother soon appear! And blessed is the trial which tends to make His children pure, and holy as He is holy, and beauteous as He is beauteous!”
I want to know your thoughts about this. Please share in the comments!
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