Refiner’s fire – The word isn’t new for us as Christians. We have heard it in many sermons. There are many songs written about it. Many books and articles describe its analogy with life’s various trials. The Bible tells us how God refines our lives like silver or gold are refined in the furnace.
Isaiah 48:10 says, “Behold, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”
We are like a lump of unrefined metal in His hands. He is our refiner. Just like the refiner sees the value of the unrefined metal and what it can become, our Master Refiner sees the richness and the value of our lives and what we can become.
“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness.” Malachi 3:3
How does the refinement process for the silver or gold works?
A metal such as gold or silver can be purified when it is melted at a high temperature. The dross or the impurities rises to the top and it is then removed from the metal before it cools down. The process of heating continues until the metal is pure. Though it seems like the fire will destroy the metal, it only makes it more pure and valuable.
“For you have tested us, O God; you have refined us as silver is refined.” Psalm 66:10
How does God’s refinement process work?
Certain trials or afflictions God allows in our lives because He has a purpose for them. But none of us really likes to be in this place. It’s hard, it’s hot, it’s painful, it’s inconvenient, it’s frightening and it’s hurting being here. But, just like the metal endures the process of its refining, you and I are to endure the process of our refining in the furnace of life’s trials. And this is only possible when we truly understand the refiner’s place in the metal’s life, when we choose His will and ways instead of our own, when we are willing to change when He reveals to us our impurities or our weaknesses and when we are willing to fully trust His heart of love in the process no matter how long it takes or how ‘hot’ it gets.
He doesn’t leave you alone in the furnace
When we go through suffering, we can have hope that He is there with us in the midst of it. He watches us closely just like the refiner watches the metal in the furnace. We can be certain that our pain will not be wasted as God will use it to purify our hearts, strengthen our faith, refine our character and transform our minds in the process of it as we remain closer to Him.
And just like the refiner knows the metal is pure when he sees his clear reflection in it, God’s image is being reflected through us when our hearts are refined the way He desires.
Are you reflecting His image or a distorted image?
What do you feel about yourself when you look at the mirror and see your image?
A lot of us have several different thoughts and feelings about ourselves when we see our image.
Perhaps you don’t like the way you look or have guilt or regrets for the choices you made and condemn yourself or you have anger towards yourself or others for the things that have happened in your life. Maybe you think you are the one responsible for all the difficulties in your life. Maybe you feel you are abandoned by God and He no longer cares for you. And there will be many reasons that make it hard for you to fully love and accept yourself.
Thus, unacceptance, anger, regrets, hatred, dissatisfaction, the feeling of rejection, and deeper pain stare back at you through the mirror view. In other words, what you see in the mirror is a distorted image of yourself.
On the other side of refiner’s fire
When God refines you as you are surrendered to Him; your heart and mind are transformed in such a way that you begin to see yourself as God sees you – perfect, whole, and complete.
The impurities of your character begins to fade away and you feel the change within.
You begin to love, accept, forgive and choose yourself the way He does. And the same begins to flow through your life for others.
You begin to allow God to own all of you and not just a part of you.
You begin to set aside your dreams and goals in the light of His perfect will and plans for your life.
You begin to gratify Him through your life rather than people.
You begin to have firm faith in Him even in the face of utmost difficulties.
You begin to see your life through the lens of God’s perspective.
And you no longer see yourself with a distorted image but you see His reflection in you which is full of His love and endless mercies.
And it’s that moment, that glorious moment of your life when you begin to mirror His image more and more transparently through your life. And that’s the ultimate purpose, the joyful moment, the beautiful side, the transforming power, and the triumphant completion of the work of Refiner’s fire.
“Can we think it pleases His loving heart
To cause us a moment’s pain?
Ah, no! But He sees through the present cross
The bliss of eternal gain.
So He waited there with a watchful eye,
With a love that is strong and sure.
And His gold did not suffer a bit more heat
Than was needed to make it pure.” ~ A.F. Ingler