One woman studied the Book of Malachi. When she reached the 3rd chapter, she was bewildered by verse 3: “And silver will melt down and purify .” (Malachi 3: 3)
She decided to visit the silversmiths to observe his work. She did not tell the master about the reasons for her interest, speaking out of simple curiosity. When she came to the master, she found him at work. He heated a piece of silver over a fire. He explained to her that in this way silver was purified: it was kept above fire in the hottest part of the flame in order to burn out all impurities. The woman remembered the verse from the book of Malachi and thought that the Lord, as a jeweler, was keeping us in a cleansing fire. She asked:Do you have to sit like that in front of the fire all the time while the silver is being cleaned?
– Yes. And I do not just have to sit and hold silver in the flame, I should not take my eyes off of it: if you hold the metal in the fire, even for a moment, the damage will be irreparable.
The woman thought for a while and asked:And how do you determine the moment when the metal reached the required purity?
He smiled and replied: Oh, it’s simple. As soon as I see my reflection in it.
“Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering…. The love of God did not protect His own Son…. He will not necessarily protect us – not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process.” Elisabeth Elliot
Life has its own share of disappointments and triumphs. Yet for many, the scales mayn’t be balanced. Some of us will have more failures, trials and difficulties as compared to others. During those times, it’s easy to lose faith in oneself, God and humanity. During my days like these, the words of prophet Zechariah echo in my mind and give me hope. “In the whole land,” declares the Lord, “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’ (Zechariah 13:8-9)
Although God tests us under the fire, it’s a refiner’s fire and not a raging inferno. Unlike a forest fire or an incinerator, a refiner’s fire does not consume completely or destroy indiscriminately. It refines, purifies and melts down the bar of silver or gold, separating out the dross that arises on top and burning up the impurities that ruin its value. The remaining molten gold or silver is pure and intact. As a part of being human and its’ fallacies, man tends to lose hope, burn out giving up when the load of troubles increase and failures occur regularly. What God wants us to do is to turn to Him as we are being refined and let Him use the molten pure gold or silver to the form He sees fitting. God always gives us a way out, it may be easy or not. Yet if we put our complete trust and faith in Him, we discover a slit of light giving a ray of hope, which will eventually help us to guide the way out from the mess we were thrown into or landed up because of our own folly. The clause is unless we open our hearts and minds we can never be cast in a mould of His Choice or shaped as per as His Will.
“Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” James 1:2-4