In life, you may endure a handful of circumstances that involve pain and confusion. Financial hardships, failed relationships, unfulfilled promises and dried-up ministries can all leave us with hardened hearts and question marks. A land that was once teeming with abundance and provision is now desolate with drought and lack. Within a blink of an eye, the whole world changed.
Whenever the unthinkable happens, we shift our eyes to where we know to get an answer from: our Heavenly Father. We bring our burdens to Him with tired arms, and fall to our knees, hoping that His mercies would cover us and establish truth in our lives. Most of the time, we see His hand prevail in our circumstances. What was once broken is now whole. The impossible situations are now resurrected, living and breathing.
However- we have had those times where we run to Him, with our burdens in hand like heavy tin buckets, overflowing with water, splashing onto the ground and muddying our feet. Out of desperation, we tread on. We need hope. We need clarity. No matter how long the journey, we seek Him. We need Him to move in our lives once again and purify the water in the buckets that we brought before Him. Because we know He's the only One who can.
But it is in times when we need His direction and clarity the most, sometimes He is seemingly silent. Even though we treaded through miles of mud with overflowing buckets, making our arms and feet weary- we are faced with deafening silence. No response. No movement. No presence. It's as if the One we need the most is no longer there. We start to wonder... what happened?
Did God change His mind? Is my suffering overlooked? Does God not love me anymore?
It is in these times when God requires our attention the most.
If you have found yourself in this situation, I am here to confirm to you that you are in a season of refinement. Pruning, or, "testing", as many people call it.
The Bible often refers to this theme within the basis of the analogy of the refinement of silver and gold. Refinement is a purification of metals, separating the true elements of the metal from the unwanted elements, contributing to the greater value and appreciation of the metal. How does the refinement process occur? In a red hot, fiery furnace. It is in the exchange of the fire and flames where the true gold is formed. Like all precious metals, we too are called to the furnace to receive refinement for the further growth and promotion of our lives. Proverbs 17:3 says,"The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts."
Why do we endure testing? It doesn't seem fair. It can often leave us with unanswered questions and disbelief in who we are or who God is.
1 Peter 1:7 says,"So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." In this season, God is watching to see how we respond to His seemingly distant presence. He wants to see where we turn when we are confronted with discomfort. Do we turn to our old ways? Or do we turn to His truths? He wants to know if we are truly living a life that is committed and consecrated before Him, even when it is painful to stand where He has called us. Testing is an undeclared way that God demonstrates His love for us. It seems paradoxical, considering how painful and devastating a season of testing may be. However, we see in the story of Job that God blessed his faithful servant with double after his season of testing. "And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before." (Job 42:10) A season of testing will often lead to promotion and blessing, which is a testament to the Father's love for us. This doesn't invalidate the pain and frustration that comes with a season of testing. The Refiners fire is a merciless plight to be found in. The flames are hot in the furnace, and the suffocating heat makes it hard to breathe.
God declares in Isaiah 43:2,"When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze."
Note that God doesn't say,"If you walk through the fire..."
When we walk through the fire of trials, the pain of tribulation, don't be dismayed by the tumultuous situations that stand before you. Let this verse be a reminder that you are not alone. Jesus speaks in Matthew 28:20," I am with you always- even to the end of age."
Similarly to the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, there's someone else in the fire.
That person is Jesus.
In a season of refinement, consider it all joy. As we see in the story of Job, a season of testing will bring promotion. For Jeremiah 17:10 says, “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds." It will bring blessing and provision. Most importantly, it will bring you into a closer relationship with God. You will know His love on a more profound level, as well as His power and might.
Be obedient to the Lord and stay in tune with the voice of His spirit. Let the Refiners fire fall upon you, and watch the transformation begin. And remember:
The pain that you feel can't compare to the joy that is coming (Romans 8:18).