We’ve had quite a spell of hot weather recently. For those of you in southern climes, 96 degrees for a week might not sound too bad, but it’s pretty tough on us Northerners without air conditioning (especially three days that got to 102 degrees!). My family used many words to describe the heat: “smothering,” “scorching,” “blistering.” We said we were “baking,” “roasting,” and “melting.” We compared the temperature to a sauna, an oven, and a furnace.It was the reference to the furnace that got me thinking. The Bible talks about God “trying” and refining us in a furnace, “as silver is tried (Psalm 66:10).” I’ve noticed a few parallels between hot weather and spiritual trials – maybe you can identify.
1. The furnace is no picnic.
It’s miserable! Whether physical or spiritual, the heat has a way of becoming the overriding fact of my life, and I find it difficult to enjoy anything, or even think about anything pleasant! Refinement is a very focused process.
2. The “dross” is what you see first.
I tend to be irritable when it’s really hot. The littlest things set me off! It’s the same way when God is refining me spiritually – those traits that He wants to remove are the very ones I display. That just shows that yes, I do need more refining.
3. Realizing our weakness lets us see His strength.
There’s nothing I can do to “stop” the heat. No matter how much I wish it was cooler, the thermometer stays the same. I can’t stop the spiritual trials, either. Even if I’m tired of dealing with the issue. Even if I can’t see any change. The realization that God is completely in charge is humbling. I tend to think, “I can handle it on my own,” and need to be put in my place, reminded that I’m a weak and sinful creature.
4. We’re not alone.
My mom feels the heat as much as my siblings and I do, but (since she is more mature than I am) she handles it better. The heat makes her sympathetic to the “suffering” of her children. She knows how we feel and is sorry for us, and tries to help us bear it. How much more does our Heavenly Father see His suffering children and have pity on them? We can be assured that His loving eyes never leave us, and we are not forgotten.
5. All things come to an end.
Maybe (probably!) not as soon as I’d like, but certainly at the time God has planned. He sits “as a refiner” (Malachi 3:2-3), watching. As soon as His purpose is accomplished, that’s it – we’re done. Until the next trial.
Dost Thou love me so?
Not only would Thou send Thine only Son
To take away my sins and set me free,
But in the furnace Thou wouldst purge my dross.
So deep is Thy love
That Thou seest my sufferings in the flames
And in Thy mercy Thou leavest me there,
Not content ‘til I be pure.
I think only of the pain to me,
Forgetting the cost to Thee.
Thine eyes behold the sufferings of Thy child
And yet, Thou failest me not.
Thy love will not relent –
With steady hand Thou holdest me in the fire,
Not having pity on my fainting flesh
But proving Thy mercy to my soul.
Oh Lord, refine.