Just recently I was talking with a friend, sharing some tough things I am going through personally. My friend commented, “Wow, God is making you really shiny!” I had to laugh, even though the process of becoming “shiny” is not so funny most of the time.
I have no idea why God has designed us to grow so much more when circumstances are difficult, but most people I talk to agree, we grow more in the winds and storms than in the sunshine. The process that my friend was referring to, what the Bible calls the refiners fire, can be downright painful. Zechariah 13:9 says, “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.'”
God does not take us through hard things for no reason. His goal is to make us more like His son, to take the things that don’t look like Him and refine them right out of us. To bring us to a place eventually where we can say, “The Lord is my God.” I don’t know about you, but I feel like I have a lot of refining left to go!
The Bible refers to those impurities in our lives as ‘dross.’ I looked up the word dross, and some synonyms for it are: refuse, trash, impurity, dregs, scum and waste. Yes, I definitely don’t want any of that lingering around in myself. However, sometimes that fire begins to feel so hot that I begin to think that maybe just a few trash bags in the corners of my person aren’t so bad! I have found though, that God is not okay with dark corners. He is perfectly holy and wants to bring us into the freedom of the perfect holiness of His Son.
That may sound a little strange to some of you, most of the world would not equate holiness with freedom, but there is an amazing sense of freedom when we are able to let the yucky parts of ourselves be healed. When we allow Jesus to come into every part of our lives and comfort us. When we can be super-honest with Him about our struggles. Holiness is not us just trying harder to be “good,” it is about Jesus Himself coming in and doing the work in our hearts.
So while I am still not to the stage where I can do the happy dance when I enter a season of difficult refining, I am getting to a place where I can see the results more quickly, such as more patience, or more peace, and I don’t kick and scream quite as much as I used to when facing a hard time!
“Remove the dross from the silver, and out comes material for the silversmith.” Proverbs 25:4
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” I Peter 1:6-7