Isaiah 48:10 – “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”
Most of us are familiar with the bible verses that compare the Christian walk to the refining of silver and gold. Most people don’t know exactly what these verses are getting at. One of God’s goals for us before we die is to try us in the fire and to refine us as silver. I believe that we’ll have to do it voluntarily or involuntarily, but we are going in that fiery furnace whether we like it or not!
I believe that if most people went to dig for gold and silver, they’d be looking and digging for pretty shiny things glistening in the light. But they’d have no idea that they would not readily recognize the silver and gold that are found in the ground and in mines as the same ones we see and purchase in stores.
Some of us may wonder, “Why can’t God just have pretty gold and silver lying everywhere? Why do we have to dig for them and then refine them and mold them? Why all the hassle?” I think that if every time we opened our door on our way to work and saw a yard full of pretty gold and silver, we wouldn’t appreciate it very much. I think we’d treat it just like grass and dirt and rocks. Things become precious when they are few. No one appreciates dirt because it’s so bountiful. Everyone wants oil and diamonds and they also are not as abundant as dirt and rocks and grass. The same goes for gold and silver.
We all have to go through the furnace in our lives at least a few times. Some people go in more often than others. Some people lose children, spouses, homes, jobs, and their health. Some people are fortunate and have a relatively uneventful life with few drama and trauma. Some children get molested or are born to drug-addicted, neglectful parents, while other children are raised in good, nurturing nuclear families. Some people have a lot of inner struggles with very few external problems, while some people are fine mentally and have family, relationship, financial, and work problems. So while some people’s lives are simpler than others, we all go through something. Regardless of whether your struggle is inner or outer, you will go through that furnace.
Malachi 3:2-3 – “But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.”
I notice that people who have the hardest or most struggles tend to have the best ministries. Not all the time, but many times I see that. For example, both Joyce Meyer and Paula White were abused in every way by their fathers. Now, they can use those trying times to help millions of other women and men who have been abused as children. While I don’t always agree with some of their teachings on other topics, I can appreciate how many lives they have touched in a positive way. Oprah is not a Christian, but because of her traumatic experience as a child and her struggles with weight for most of her adult life, she can empathize and sympathize with others very easily. She personally knows what pain and discouragement feels like, so she can’t help but have compassion on others who do as well. People who go through the most in life can reach the most people effectively in my opinion because “ain’t been there can’t tell going there how to get through there.” But “been there, done that and got the t-shirt” can. It takes someone who knows the pain to efficiently help someone cope with their pain. For example, a woman who has lost a child can help other mothers who have lost children better than a woman who has never lost a child or who has never had a child.
Proverbs 17:3 – “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.”
I’m sure the three women I mentioned above would have chosen NOT to go through their traumatic childhoods, but I bet they love that they can help others with their refined gold and silver lives.
I believe that we are to be stewards of whatever God lets us go through. If He gives you money, be a good steward of that. If He gives you children, be a good steward of them. If He gives you a ministry, be a good steward of that. If He gives you a beautiful singing voice, be a good steward of that. AND if He allows you to go through something traumatic, be a good steward of that experience too. You can write a book about it, start a support group for it, head a crusade against it, or whatever, but don’t waste your trauma on self-pity. Use it to help others. I find it so admirable when I watch docudramas and documentaries about parents who go through a terrible ordeal with their children or marriage; and instead of wallowing in self-pity and blame; they start a fund or have rallies to increase awareness of the issue. They become stewards of their pain to help others.
Zechariah 13:9 – “…I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold.”
Some of us might be drossy silver or untried gold right now. But our turn will come to go into the fiery furnace. It may seem like we’ll never get out. It may seem like the pressure and heat is on too strong for us to endure. We may just want to give up and stop the refining process early. We might want to turn back to our old state of being because sometimes it might seem that being a Christian is harder than not being a Christian. But be of good cheer because WHEN THE SMOKE CLEARS, you’re coming out like gold! And not just any gold. You’ll be the brightest and best quality of gold!
If gold and silver had a voice, I can’t imagine them saying, “Man, I sure wish I was back how I was! I was in the muddy water/dirt/mine, and I liked it just fine. No one wanted to be seen with me, but that was okay. I wouldn’t be worth much at the stores in that state, but that’s okay. If a fiancé gave me to his fiancée, she’d probably throw it back in his face and refuse the proposal, but that would be okay. Those were the days! I hate being valuable, shiny, expensive, beautiful, and desired.”
Everyone who actually completes the refining process is glad they went through it. I don’t think that people who successfully make it through rehab are missing the days when they were doing the unthinkable for a hit of drugs, stealing from their family, and destroying their children’s lives. They are so glad that it’s over. Don’t be mad that the painful refining happened. Just be glad that it’s over. Like C.S. Lewis said, “The pain now is part of the happiness then.”
Psalm 66:10 – “For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.”
When the refinery workers finally get you out of the oven — however long it takes — they don’t just pour you on the ground in whatever kind of shape. They pour you into a mold. They shape you with the others. They treat you like royalty! They won’t drop you anymore. They won’t treat you like nothing anymore. They will respect you. Then they’ll ship you here and there to get shaped for precious jewelry. They put a price tag on you. You’ll never been thrown away again. You’ll never find a gold or silver ring in the trash; and even if you did, you’d be considered quite fortunate!
Another thing is that you’ll be given precious jewels to carry. You would never have gotten these jewels in your original state. You have to be prepared to carry amethysts, sapphires, garnets, rubies, emeralds, and diamonds. You have to go through the scary, fiery furnace. But it’ll all be worth it though because WHEN THE SMOKE CLEARS, you’ll be what you were originally meant to be all along. Gold and silver aren’t meant to hang out in dirt all their lives. It was in you all along to be like beautiful silver and gold.
Job 23:10 – “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”