“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried and chosen you in the furnace of affliction.” ~ Isaiah 48:10, Amplified Study Bible
“I have tried and chosen you in the furnace of affliction.”
Oh. My. Goodness. Have I got a treat for you!
Let’s begin with words that signify affliction: pain, grief, misery, sickness, loss, calamity, distress, suffering…can I get a witness?
I know we don’t like to think about these things and we certainly don’t associate these things with the abundant life we signed up for, right? But, the reality is that life on this earth is difficult. I want to encourage you with this: God has eternal purposes for all things that concern us…ALL things.
Now, I want you to imagine something. Ask the Lord to open the eyes of your heart to see and understand the powerful beauty of the image I am going to paint for you…
The silversmith wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of his calloused hand. The flames leaped in the bowels of the furnace, licking the air for oxygen, preparing to devour anything not pure enough to withstand its sweltering fury.
Carefully, the old gentleman filled his stone “smithing” bowl with slivers and filings of discarded silver – throw-aways carefully chosen for the vessel he would craft. He placed them “just so” into the bowl and then eased it into the center of the flames where the heat was greatest. This was necessary to burn away anything impure. Only the finest silver would do for the vessel the Master silversmith would shape after the refining fire.
The old man reached for his chair. His fingers, black with soot, grasped the carved back and pulled it closer to the furnace. He sat down, never taking his eyes off the silver which was now beginning to melt and swirl in the inferno. The silversmith knew the exact moment to remove the silver – a moment too long and it would be destroyed.
He kept a careful eye watching, waiting – looking for that moment when the impurities were gone.
At last, the dross pulled away from the silver. The silversmith eased the stone bowl out of the flames. He peered into the liquid luster. Reflected back to him, as in a mirror, was his very own image. The old gentleman knew the refining fire had completed its work. The silver was pure. It shone with the brightness of the morning star. It reflected its Master’s image. Now the vessel for which it was intended could be shaped and molded by the Master’s hand.
Sweet friend, are you in the throes of suffering? Is the anguish of your heart threatening to suffocate you? The Master knows. He is keeping a careful watch over you, governing the trial, adjusting the flame so that you will not be injured or destroyed by its pain. He is a Holy God who desires to dwell richly with His people. Impurities of soul prevent Him from doing so. Impurities of soul prevent us from becoming the magnificent vessel intended for His glory.
I like to think of the flames of the refiner’s fire as the consuming fire of my God, surrounding me and protecting me by the power of His Presence.
I would say to you, “Look up. Look up and see the face of the Master. There is love in His eyes. You are His special treasure, the apple of His eye. You are not alone. There is purpose in your pain.”
Father, this is such a hard lesson to learn. You promise there is fellowship in our suffering – an intimacy with You that is born out of our pain. Open our eyes that we might see Your eternal purposes in all things. Help us to trust You when we can’t see outside the furnace of affliction. Hold us. Hide us. Remind us of Your love. You are an amazing God. Thank You for Your mercy, Your love, Your grace. Thank You for being with us always.
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