Refined in the Furnace of Suffering

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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“I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.”

Isaiah 48:10

When life is easy, we tend to get caught up in trivialities: worrying about our appearance or passing on the latest gossip or boasting in our material possessions or . . . you name it. Often that which matters most gets ignored. We miss family gatherings so we can work a few extra hours. Or when we’re with our loved ones, we spend our time staring at the television. We spend less time with the Lord, skipping church or skimping on our devotions.

Suffering has a way of refocusing our minds and hearts. When we’re in pain, be it physical, emotional, or relational, we stop caring about minutiae. Our hearts yearn for what truly matters: the love of family and friends, the assurance that life has meaning, and, above all, the presence and peace of God.

Thus God uses pain to refine us, burning away the dross of our life. When we’re in the furnace of suffering, we often wonder where God is and why he is letting us hurt. Yet, when we look back on the hard times of our lives, we can see how God used them for our good. This doesn’t mean we look forward to suffering, however. But it does mean that we can find in our pain the peace that comes from a deeper experience of God.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have you known what it’s like to be in the furnace of suffering? How has pain helped you to grow in your relationship with God? What helps you to sense God’s presence when you’re hurting?

PRAYER: Gracious Lord, I must admit that I don’t like this notion of the furnace of suffering. Being refined by you is just fine. But when I think of the process of refining, especially the pain involved, I’m much less enthusiastic. How I wish there were an easier way for me to grow in grace and goodness!

Nevertheless, Lord, when I look back at my life, I can see how you have been at work in me during difficult times. I think of that wonderful verse of John Rippon in “How Firm a Foundation”:

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

Thank you, gracious Father, for using the difficult times of my life for your advantage . . . and for mine. Thank you for making me more like you, in good times and especially in hard times. Amen.