Saturday, October 13, 2012

There is Purpose in the Process

Remove the dross from silver and the sterling will be ready for the silversmith
 - Prov. 25:4

I remembered that time before the advent of washing machines and Vanish Stain Remover, when you rub the bar soap on a dirty outfit especially around the collar and cuffs or on a stain, and you wash vigorously until the stain is removed.

The vigorous washing has a purpose—to make the cloth clean and spotless. If it were possible, the cloth will cry out during the process but that would not stop the launderer, because his purpose is to restore cleanness to the fabric. God is like the launderer's soap.

Refined as silver, tested as gold.

The Refiner's Fire
It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities (dross) that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. God's furnace of affliction is always for refinement, never for destruction like the fire of an incinerator.

The pure silver or gold which comes out is used to make vessels honourable, beautiful and fit for the master's use. A refiner's fire refines. It purifies. God is like a refiner's fire.

Every child of God will go through the refiner's fire at one time or the other in life. These furnace of trials, persecutions, suffering and afflictions, could be relational, physical, economic, emotional or circumstantial. 

Sometimes when trouble comes, it does not drizzle, it can be torrential—challenges at work, financial difficulties, failing health, a marriage that has dissolved into an endless string of loveless and lifeless days or a child whose decision grieves the parents' heart. And all avenues for escape seem blocked.

The trials that God allows have a purpose, they can change our conduct and refine our character. He uses our momentary trials and afflictions to change us and accomplish His purpose for our lives.

James encouraged us to consider it pure joy whenever we are enveloped in trials of any sort, being assured that ultimately the trial of our faith will bring perseverance (James 1: 2-3).

We are never alone in the furnace of trials.
The Refiner is never far from the mouth of the furnace when his gold is in the fire. His eyes are always fixed on the metal, taking care the fire is not too hot, and keeping the metal in until he knows the dross is completely removed when he sees his image reflected in the glowing mass.

The Son of God is always walking in the midst of the flames when his children are cast into them.

Knowing this kept me through many fiery experiences. Just knowing that God is there with me gave me the strength to hold on to hope.

You don’t want to miss the purpose:
Many times trials prompt grumblings and we complain like the children of Israel did while they were in the wilderness.

We want to fast track the process or by some means shorten the walk through the valley of the shadow of death, so that we can quickly come out on the other side. In so doing we can miss what we are supposed to learn through this process.

But what if we choose to go through it, determined to get the best God has in stock for us there? It is in our going through that we can experience His presence with us. David said, "I fear no evil, for thou art with me." He experienced the presence of God in such a way that it transcends him over the fear of evil. He got that only by going through.

Let's ponder for a moment on the anguish of the soul Jeremiah felt in Lamentations 3. Broken in body and spirit, his outward affliction and inward turmoil pushed him towards despair as would be the case for anyone faced with such challenging circumstances. Yet one thought kept at bay the hopelessness that was threatening to overwhelm him — it is because of God's great love he was not consume, for His compassion never fails.

Jeremiah could praise God in the midst of his adversity because he understood that God's supply of loyal love  and grace offered to him is inexhaustible. Therefore, he resolved to wait for God to act on his behalf and bring restoration.

He could trust God despite his circumstances because he realized there was a purpose for his affliction — it was to accomplish the greater good of turning God's people back to Him.

Perhaps the purpose of your affliction is to cause others to see that God never abandons, leaves or forsakes His own at their times of trials and difficulties. He can demonstrate to the world around you that He is a God Who shows great compassion because of His unfailing love.

The bottom-line is that the trials you are going is not about you alone. Our trials are attacks against the Kingdom of God. The enemy is trying to limit our ability to exercise our purposes to help others. So if in the periods of our trials we become self-absorbed in pity parties, we deny ourselves access to the supernatural power of God to help us through it.

If we respond to the process with unbelief, discouragement or bitterness, these will rob us of the treasure God is refining in us and others will miss out too.

God will never allow us to suffer in vain. If we trust Him, He can use whatever painful circumstance we encounter to accomplish His good purpose in our lives. There is gold to find in the midst of our trials, but we must go through to mine for it.

I can testify that I have found gold in the midst of my trials and afflictions.

Our experiences shape us
Our outlook to life is shaped by diverse life experiences. The furnace of trials and affliction may just be the very thing that will shape your life and ministry in the most powerful ways.

God can use the memory of our experience in our times of affliction as a source of encouragement for others going through similar experiences. He comforts us so we can comfort others in their troubles with the same comfort we have received.

What can we learn from the furnace of affliction ?
There is so much to learn from life's challenging situation if we perceive it as being used of God to accomplish His purpose in us.

First, we get to know God more intimately as the life and breath of our very existence and we experience the help of the Holy Spirit as we walk on the path marked with pain, suffering and affliction.

We put the glory of God on display:
Our lives in our period of trials and difficulties can display the superiority of the life lived in God. He wants to impact the world supernaturally through our lives. Because the three Hebrew boys stood by their faith in God and willingly endured the fiery furnace, a heathen King celebrated the name of God.

We are prepared for eternal glory:
Our momentary and light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison (2 Cor. 4:17). The trials Paul endured can not be considered light but yet he spoke of it as of the lightest conceivable thing compared with the weight eternal of glory which awaits him.

Weeping may endure for the night, joy comes in the morning:
No matter how hard and difficult the process of refining may be, it will soon pass away, it will not be for ever. Afflictions are only momentary, transient and temporary. It tempered by God's compassion and love and can be endured with hope in God's salvation and deliverance.

As bad as things may be, it is by God's mercy that they are not worse.

"The Promises of God never shine as brightly as in the furnace of affliction"
- A.W. Pink.

 Perhaps you are at a point where you do not feel the comfort the Bible promises for those in pain and anguish. And you don’t understand what God has planned for you in this fiery furnace you are in but you can have this confident assurance that your life is in His hands and His eyes are intent on you.

What do we need to go through the process?
We need …
… the right attitude to trials,
            …to understand the advantages of the trials,
                        … and to know where to obtain help.

Ultimately as a child of God, you can stand strong through the storm by pursuing, perceiving and practicing the Word of God. And your life will inspire hope in others.

In what ways have the fire of affliction and trials shaped your life? What golden nuggets did you mine in the midst of your trials? Please share in the comment box below.

1 comment:

  1. As I read this message again today, I felt it was specially prepared for me for this moment. God knew ahead of time that I was going to need a message such as this today and He led me to prepared it in advance. I am awed by His loyal love. Thank You, Lord.


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