For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined.” (Psalms 66:10 NKJV)
I was talking to my husband recently about the purpose of the trials in our lives that feel like we’re walking “through the fire.” Did you know that fire is often a necessary step in the refining process? For example, gold is heated to over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit in order to make it 99.999% pure (or 24K for the Bruno Mars fans), while steel requires high temperatures in order to strengthen it for use.
One of the most compelling stories in the Bible about being tried by fire is Job’s. Job was a righteous man that God brought to the devil’s attention:
Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” (Job 1:8 NKJV)
Job lost his children, his wealth and his health, but viewed it all as part of God’s refining:
Then Job answered and said:
“Even today my complaint is bitter;
My hand is listless because of my groaning.
Oh, that I knew where I might find Him,
That I might come to His seat!
I would present my case before Him,
And fill my mouth with arguments.
I would know the words which He would answer me,
And understand what He would say to me.
Would He contend with me in His great power?
No! But He would take note of me.
There the upright could reason with Him,
And I would be delivered forever from my Judge.
“Look, I go forward, but He is not there,
And backward, but I cannot perceive Him;
When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him;
When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him.
But He knows the way that I take;
When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:1-10)
The refining or the testing is not made to break you, but to build and strengthen you for God’s purpose, and to show God’s glory in you as his representative on earth.
This was especially true in the case of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when the king required his subjects in Babylon to worship an idol. Their response not only demonstrated their faith in God, but God used their trial to demonstrate His majesty:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18 NKJV)
“Therefore I (the king) make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.” (Daniel 3:29 NKJV)
Every “refining” experience of mine was difficult and often painful, but necessary in hindsight because it prepared me for the next part of my God-ordained journey. And while I know that refining is often part of the process, being in the fire is still never easy or fun. However, when I reflect on the lessons learned and the strength I’ve gained, I’m humbled. And when I recall the glory God receives when I respond to the question, “How are you bearing up under that?!” and I respond,”God’s grace,” then all I can be is thankful for my “refining on purpose.”