Why can’t life just calm down? Why can’t the problems go away? Why can’t this whole thing just be easier?
Well, let me tell you why … because God is refining us. Through the heat, through the fire, through the pressures, and through the trials, God is crafting you to become everything he designed you to be. But first, some things have to melt away. And let’s face it, that melting away process isn’t always pleasant.
You have to know, often times the very thing you want to avoid and the problems you want to wish away, actually have a purpose. It’s not a punishment. It’s not an absence of God in the details of your life. It’s not even a test. It’s simply a process. A process of refining.
Zechariah 13:9, the Lord says, “I will bring them through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver.” Malachi 3:3 says, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”
God isn’t indifferent towards the problems you’re facing. He isn’t distant in your times of trouble. He is sitting as the refiner and purifier of silver. He is near. He is present. And he is in complete and perfect control.
Your role in this is to become refined like silver. Let’s dig deeper to understand that process and the true meaning of you and I going through fire to become pure and refined like silver. To understand, you must go to a silversmith. The one who handcrafts silver. Not a factory. There were no factories when God spoke these words. There were no mass production lines of conveyor belts and massive machines. There was a man with iron tools and a scorching hot fire, who sat close to the fire and worked the silver continually.
I recently read about a visit to a silversmith, still working with silver in the original handcrafted ways God spoke of. This silversmith explained how he would hold the silver in the middle of the flames where the heat was the very hottest. This extreme heat was required to cause the solid chunk of silver to melt. In the process of melting in the hottest of the flames, impurities would separate from the silver, leaving it more pure and more valuable.
I don’t know what impurities you might be carrying around with you, but I know I used to carry around a lot of worry and stress. I woke up every day with the weight of the world on my shoulders as if I was the only one who could do anything about anything … everything. It turned me into a bit of a stressed out control freak, and even prideful of being the fixer of things. That is, until I found myself in the middle if circumstances I couldn’t fix. I couldn’t change it. Burdens I couldn’t carry. Loads far too heavy for my shoulders. There, completely overwhelmed by the unchangeable mess I was in, I began to change. God purified me of worry and stress. He melted it right off me. As things got worse, I surrendered more. And I came out of that fire more pure. Things were melted off me that I had carried my entire life.
Who you see today isn’t who I used to be. And I know this, God isn’t done with me yet, because he’s taking me through more fires. Not as punishment, but as refinement.
What are you carrying that is not in your true identity of who God created you to be? Guilt? Shame? Regret? Jealousy? Laziness? Bitterness? Drunkenness? Harshness? Unforgiveness? Greediness? Self-centeredness? Self-righteousness? There’s only one way you can be separated from that impurity that has worked its way into you … flames, heat, uncomfortable furnaces of situations you must go right through and be held there for a bit.
Why? Because God cares more about your character than your comfort. He cares more about the overall purpose of your life than the pleasant, pretty feelings you seek.
So, yes, he holds you there for a bit. Holds you in the fire. Holds you in the heat of where you don’t want to be, going through what you don’t want to go through. But notice, he is the one holding you. God holds YOU. He sits with you as the refiner of your life and purifier of your silver.
In reading about a true silversmith, I learned they really do sit by the fire. They are right by the flames, never leaving the silver in the process for a minute. If they leave the silver in the fire for one minute too long, it is ruined. So, the silversmith sits and holds the silver through the fire, never taking his eye from it. And this is what God wanted you to know about his position in your problems. “He sits as the refiner and purifier of silver,” meaning, he’s right here with you in this. He holds you perfectly. He won’t abandon you in these flames. He won’t leave you to ruin. He will hold you through this fire until all the impurities have melted away, and at just the right time, he will bring you out.
Now, here’s the real kicker. This is the take your breath away moment of realization. Are you ready for this? There’s one way the silversmith knows when the silver is ready to come out of the fire. Guess how he knows all the impurities are gone? When he can see himself in the silver! Legit, I couldn’t make this up! When the silversmith, the one who has been sitting by the fire, holding the silver in the flames melting away all its impurities, can see his reflection in the silver, he knows the silver is now pure and ready to be removed from the flames.
God is looking for his reflection in you! The bitterness, laziness, unforgiveness, harshness, and self-righteousness must all melt away first. The worry, the shame, the guilt, the control, all removed by the flames, leaving a pureness that reflects the one holding it all along.
When will these problems you’re going through end? Perhaps when they have done their refining work. When those flames have melted away every impurity that has attached itself to you over the years, trying to become part of who you are, then the heat will be turned down. Then you are lifted out of this fire to reflect God perfectly.
Can God see himself in you? Can others see God in you?
That doesn’t happen in perfectly planned circumstances that go precisely as you wish. That doesn’t happen in everything being easy and comfortable. That doesn’t happen through billionaire dreams, love stories that last forever, families that live in bliss, or bodies that are untouched by sickness. That’s our cool refrigerator life with a total absence of the heat. That’s not reality.
Your body goes in the refrigerator when you die, not while you’re living! While you’re living, girl you’re in the heat!
The heat changes you. The heat challenges you. The heat has a purpose, and that purpose is to make you a reflection of God.
2 Corinthians 3:18 MSG says then there will be “Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.”
Oh, doesn’t that just give you the warm fuzzies? The image of God entering our lives and making us brighter and more beautiful to become more and more like him. Oh it is good, ridiculously good, but don’t miss what the process is. The process of God making us brighter and more beautiful to become more and more like him is the refining process of silver. It’s heat. It’s flames. It’s the fiery furnace of things we can’t control, things we don’t want, and things we can’t get ourselves out of.
Remember, you are held, personally held by the refiner. He is close. His eye never leaves you. And at just the right moment, when all the impurities are melted off you, you come out brighter and more beautiful, bearing the reflection of the one who has held you all along, your refiner.
God settles for nothing but the best. His plans for your life have been nothing but the best from the beginning of time, and he’s not giving up on the process to get you there. So, he keeps holding you. He keeps his eye on you. And your impurities just keep melting away so you become nothing but the best, reflecting nothing but him!