Isaiah 48:10 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.
Do you feel like you are going through fiery trials? Feel like waves are crashing against your soul? Feel like the storm clouds on the horizon are just getting darker and fiercer? There is a reason for all that the Lord allows into your life, including the troubles and afflictions.
If you are a child of God (through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ), then all that happens in your life – whether good or ill – is for the purpose of making you more Christ-like according to Romans 8:28-29. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
If we understand the general reason why we go through various trials, we will be better equipped to cling to the Lord in the midst of these trying times. The Bible teaches that a believer is like gold or silver that must be tried in a furnace to remove all the dross and blemishes in the metal.
1 Peter 1:6-8 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Malachi 3:2-3 But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
Fuller’s soap is a powerful laundering chemical that basically bleaches out the stains and causes the garment to be a brilliant white. A refiner’s fire is a fire that is so hot that it causes any metal being heated upon it to be separated from the dross that is within it. The liquid metal gets heated up, and the impurities rise to the surface, whereupon the silversmith then removes the dross. As more dross is consumed or removed, the refined metal is purer, more precious to the Refiner.
So too, our faith become more precious to the Lord as the impurities in our spiritual lives are removed and the silver of our faith glows stronger. Our faith can only grow as we claim the promises of His Word, and look to Him for strength and comfort through the trials He places (or allows) in our lives.
As the commentators Jamieson, Fausset and Brown state in their comments on Malachi 3:3, “The purifier sits before the crucible, fixing his eye on the metal, and taking care that the fire be not too hot, and keeping the metal in, only until he knows the dross to be completely removed by his seeing his own image reflected (Ro 8:29) in the glowing mass. So the Lord in the case of His elect.”
I know trials and chastisement are not pleasant when we are going through them, but if we lean on the Lord and trust that He knows what He is doing, it will make them that much more bearable. Like the Refiner, knowing exactly how long to refine the silver, so too, the Lord knows exactly how long and in what manner to best refine us and remove our own dross. If we can trust our Heavenly Father with this aspect of our lives, we will not lose sight of our Saviour when the trials do come. If we keep our eyes steadfastly on Jesus, we are promised His perfect peace according to Isaiah 26:3: Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.
The Lord doesn’t indiscriminately cause affliction, but when, in His perfect wisdom, He knows it is for our best. (See Lamentations 3:32-33) When our heart has grown cold toward the Lord and the things of God (Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, soul-winning, etc.), sometimes He has to use stronger methods to get our attention. If we have wandered from our walk with the Lord, He will do what it takes to bring us back to Him – even if it means heavy chastisement. To quote my Pastor, “First He speaks, and if we will not listen, then He spanks. If we will not heed His chastisement, then He scourges; and then finally He separates (by death).” God loves His children too much to let them wallow for long in unrepentant sin!
Isaiah 1:25 And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:
Yes, as Christians, we will go through the waters… Isaiah 43:2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
Praise the Lord that even though we sometimes go through fiery trials, Jesus doesn’t leave us there. We will walk through the waters, through the rivers, and through the fires, but we will not stay in the midst of them! As the Psalmist stated in Psalm 66:8-12 O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of His praise to be heard: Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved. For thou, O God, hast proved us: Thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; Thou laidst affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.
After the trials have achieved their intended purpose, then the Lord will remove them. And we will come forth brighter. Our dross will be consumed more and more with each trial, and we will one day be like Jesus Christ. In God’s perfect wisdom, He knows what He is doing, and in His perfect strength, He has the power to bring His purpose to completion. He will finish the work He has begun in us! Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Job 23:10 But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
Don’t fear the trials and afflictions, instead, choose to focus on the Saviour and His purpose. Rest content in the Lord’s perfect plan, and trust yourself to His safekeeping. As our Heavenly Father works out all things in your life, to make you more Christ-like, let Him have His perfect way with you.
2 Timothy 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.
Study written August 14th, 2002.
Jerry (Gerald) Bouey.