Through the Flames
“Do you see what I’ve done? I’ve refined you, but not without fire. I’ve tested you like silver in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah 48:10
As I was reading the other day in Isaiah, this verse really seemed to come alive and speak to me on a deep and personal level. I thought I’d share a little bit of it with you and perhaps you’ll be blessed by it too.
Something profound happens when we stand on the other side of the flames in life. After we’ve walked though the fires and experience the consuming heat all around us and then emerge on the other side – not wounded and burnt, but instead refined.
One of the definitions given to the word ‘refine’ by Websters dictionary is: “to become pure or perfected”
Let’s read that verse with that in mind. “Do you see what I’ve done? I have purified and perfected you, but not without fire.”
I’ve always been fascinated by the process used to refine and purify metals. The process begins with a piece of metal or a rock containing metal is heated to an extreme temperature. As the temperature rises to extreme levels, the metal begins to soften and lose the shape that it was previously cast or formed in. If it was previously cast as a silver necklace a gold bar it will slowly lose the ability to retain that form. As the temperature rises even further, it fully melts and enters a liquid state. During this stage, it has fully left behind it’s previous ‘mold’ and begins to undergo another important step. In it’s solid form, metal effectively locks any impurities within it’s structure. If you have a 14k gold watch for instance, there are some (albeit minimal) impurities within that watch that you cannot remove while it is in solid form. If you want to turn that gold watch into an 18k or 24k gold piece, it has to be heated to the melting point in order to remove them. As the metal is in liquid form, the impurities within that metal begin to rise to the surface. What previously seemed perfectly pure, now has visible impurities floating on the surface. The refiner can then scrape them off leaving behind a more pure substance than it was previously. Occasionally, depending on the what the refiner has in mind for the metal, this is also the stage that he might intentionally introduce other substances or metals into mix in order to add strength or durability that will be essential when it emerges from the refining process. The final stage is for this purified and strengthened metal to be formed into something entirely new. Maybe a gold watch, maybe a platinum ring to showcase a brilliant diamond, or perhaps a hardened steel hammer for use by the refiner to shape other objects.
I won’t belabor the point, but when God refines us – when God purifies and perfects us – when God makes us more ‘ourselves’ than we previously were – when God perfects us and prepares us for a purpose, He often times uses the difficulties in our lives to do so. The word translated affliction can also be translated as depression or even misery.
As I’m standing on the other side of some rough times in my own life, I’ve felt my identity melt away and lose shape in some ways. I’ve seen some impurities that I was ashamed of rise to the surface, but then be wiped away by my Refiners hands. I’ve watched him put people, influences, and understanding in my life that weren’t previously there that have made me a stronger person than I previously was. And now, I’m watching with amazement as God is shaping me into something that feels more like ‘me’ than I’ve ever felt. Often times, it is through the flames of adversity that we discover our true identity.
My prayer for you is that if you’re walking through the fire at this point in your life that maybe something in this verse will speak to your situation, and you’ll become more aware of your Refiner’s hands working throughout the process. I pray that you’ll have the strength to let go of some of the image that you’ve held onto that isn’t really true to the person that you know deep down is the real you. I pray that your ears and heart will be open to the words and people that God is placing into your life to strengthen you. Finally, I thank God for the beautiful work that He is creating in and through you. The Refiner always has a purpose, and there is always a plan. Don’t lose heart and don’t give up!
“But He knows the way that I take [He has concern for it, appreciates, and pays attention to it]. When He has tried me, I shall come forth as refined gold [pure and luminous].” Job 23:10 Amplified Bible