He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.
Mal. 3:3 ESV
Recently I was asked at a reception to share briefly about my experience at Denver Seminary the past five years working on my doctoral degree. This passage from the book of Malachi came to mind. I shared how the whole experience was a refining process that the Lord used to shape and transform me. At times challenging, and at times painful, I will be forever grateful for the process because it has brought me closer to the Lord.
In his discipleship tool entitled One on One with God, Jerry Fine shares some valuable insight related to the passage. In the words of a real-life silversmith; “I must sit with my eyes steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured. I only know when the process of purifying is complete by seeing my own image reflected in the silver.” What a beautiful picture of how our heavenly Father uses trials to refine and sharpen us. He is not passive in the process. He is constantly present and attentive. He will not pull us from the flames one moment too soon, or one moment too late.
The wilderness experience is often a refining one for participants. The elements, altitude, physical exertion, and a removal from civilization can seem to conspire and bring one to the very end of oneself. It is a great comfort to know that the Silversmith is actively involved in this process, waiting for just the right moment when He sees His reflection in His precious daughter or son.
For most of us, the past year of COVID-19 has been an extreme refining process. At times it may have felt like we would disintegrate from the pressure of a world gone mad. As we begin to emerge from the pandemic and navigate a new normal, it is important to recognize that God has been present and active during this unprecedented, trying time. The pandemic did not take Him by surprise, and He has redemptive purposes in it for each of us. It is my prayer that as you as are being carefully and patiently pulled out of the furnace, you will recognize the purifying work of Christ in your life and will praise Him for His goodness and mercy in this painful but necessary refining process.