Refiner’s Fire

Most likely, we would have had a situation where we feel we are on a constant pressure. That experience might be so stressful, torturing or frustrating to us. We might feel helpless, only understanding the situation but could not figure out the solution. I have had one. I have been constantly infuriated by the act of my relative. In my perspective, she is so ungrateful and demanding. Yet, she often says the best thing about her. This often made me angry at times and hated her. I felt that I needed to blast her with blunt words, to make her realize about her true-self. However, I could not really do that, as she is still my relative. Had I done that, there would have been a conflict in the family.

The situation itself is very overwhelming. The hatred started to consume the other parts of my soul too. The anger towards her turned me out to be an angry man, that made me grow impatient towards others as well. I cried to God in frustration, asking when the solution to the situation would appear. Yet, I also know that the answer might not be near. Only God’s sovereign wisdom knows what this situation might unfolds. In the midst of the frustration, I read my friend posted a reflection on Instagram. It is about what the prophet Malachi recorded about the heart of God in the midst of our frustration in life. Malachi 3:3 illustrates the role of God in our struggles:

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.

In the process of making silver-crafts, the refiner must wait in front of the furnace the whole time because it needs special care and attention to ensure perfect tempering.  Too short in the fire, then the silver will still have some impurities in it, a tainted piece of jewelry. Too long in the heat, then the silvers becomes overly-melted. It has to be impeccable. Truly, metallurgy requires a skillful and experienced metallurgist. Gratefully, our God is a skilled artist and His timing is perfect (Ecclesiastes 3:11). It is also important to note that the fiery heat is certainly discomforting even for the refiner, especially as he has to sits in front of it during the whole process. The refiner has to endure the fiery heat from the blazing furnace to witness and ensure the perfection of his precious metals. So is God. It is not easy for God to witness His children struggles (Hosea 11:8) as He loves us perfectly, but for the sake of His gracious work in us, He patiently waits for the purification of our souls.

Hence, it is amazing to think that God is present when we face our challenges. It is understandable when someone think that God is cruel when they face struggles. Our natural tendency is to think that God intentionally troubles us with many trials while He turned His back on us and remained silent. However, this is clearly not the case. God is always with us and never leave us alone, just as what Moses (Deuteronomy 31:6), Paul (Hebrews 13:5) and ultimately Jesus Himself (Matthew 28:20) stressed out in the Bible. God sits and awaits us until we are purified as silver, until our debris and excess is shaken off. He cares for us and awaits us patiently going through the process. He will not let us bear the burden more than we can, just as the refiner would not let his silver stays in the heat longer than what is needed. Our discomfort is not the main purpose in our challenges, instead, it is for our joy to grow and witness that our lives are purified by the true refiner Himself (Titus 3:5), growing complete in His likeness. His work is a redemptive work. We are cleansed and purified so that we might discover the true joy that we need. To be like Him and being able to do His work of righteousness. Without He works His Spirit in us first, we won’t be able do produce fruits as we were dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1,5). I don’t know how could I find the resolution to my frustrations, but I know He sets His eye on me and on His perfect timing, I will see His work perfectly transforms my heart. I would like to close with lyrics from Brian Doerksen’s Refiner’s Fire:

Purify my heart

Let me be as gold and precious silver

Purify my heart

Let me be as gold, pure gold

Refiner’s fire

My heart’s one desire Is to be holy

Set apart for You, Lord I choose to be holy

Set apart for You, my Master Ready to do Your will

Purify my heart

Cleanse me from within And make me holy

Purify my heart

Cleanse me from my sin Deep within

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