The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
But the LORD tests hearts.
– Proverbs 17:3
One year just after Christmas, my brother’s home burned to the ground.
Virtually nothing was saved except for a few wedding photographs that miraculously escaped the flames. In tears I watched him and his wife dig carefully through the ashes for any shred of their possessions.
Fire is terrible in its power to completely purge our lives. It’s no wonder God employed this element as a symbol of His cleansing.
In his booklet Comfort for Troubled Christians, J.C. Brumfield explains how the ancient silversmiths extracted silver from the ore. In the old days, a smithy heated silver until the pure element separated from the worthless dross. To do this, he placed the raw silver ore into a kettle and built a fire under it.
As the fire burned hotter and hotter, the silversmith stayed close by and watched it so the silver wouldn’t overheat. When the ore reached the right temperature, the dross started to separate from the silver and rise to the surface. The smithy then skimmed the dross off the surface. This process continued until the silver was purified.
You know where this is going. God is our Holy Silversmith; trial is the fire He builds under the kettle of our existence, and the intense heat is God’s way of getting those raw, ugly imperfections in us to rise to the surface. When we acknowledge and repent of these sins, they are removed, and we are purified.
It is comforting to know God doesn’t cook us forever.
The silver is only heated until it’s ready for use. How did the refiner know when to take the kettle off the heat?
He knew the refining was finished when he could look down into the kettle and see his reflection in the surface of the silver. We, too, must undergo the fire until our lives shine with the reflection of God’s image, and we are ready to be used by Him.
When the fire is intense, and it feels like the trials will never end, we can be assured God has not abandoned us; in fact, He’s very near. He’s watching us carefully. He’s removing the impurities thoroughly.
Patiently, He’s waiting… to see His reflection.
For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined.