Sometimes life is not very comfortable – to put it mildly!! And in those moment, we may ask, what on earth is God doing? Why does he not rescue us out of this situation?
One of the images that crops up repeatedly in the Old Testament, in the Prophets and the Psalms, is that of God as one who purifies and refines us as silver is refined.
A few days ago I saw the following story on FaceBook, re-posted by a friend of mine. I don’t know if it’s true – or simply written by someone to illustrate a point. But I found it profoundly moving and so I would like to share it with you.
There was once a group of women studying the book of Malachi in the Old Testament. As they were studying chapter three, they came across verse three, which says: “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” This verse puzzled the women, and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study.
That week this woman called up a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.
The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot – then she thought again about the verse, that he sits as a refiner and purifier of silver. She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.
The man answered “Yes”, and explained that he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be damaged.
The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?”
He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy. When I see my image in it.”
If today you are feeling the heat of this world’s fire, just remember that God, our Father, has His eyes on you.
I’d like to add to this story. When I read it, it struck me that, as he holds the silver in the flames, the refiner is also feeling the heat and the discomfort. Yet again, as we examine this image, we find that we are not alone. We are held, lovingly and carefully. And God is in the fire with us, walking the road alongside us. He cannot ever leave us, most especially during those times of refining.