“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace for gold, and the Lord tests hearts. “ Proverbs 17:3

The California Gold Rush. With it brought some quarter of a million 49ers that arrived with an expectancy to strike it rich. They first exhausted their resources in the riverbeds and then refocused on blasting away quartz veins in mountain sides, rich in gold. After excavation, the gold was processed on site before final refining was to be done. One refinement method required the gold ore to be placed in a furnace heated to around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. As the gold ore melted, the impurities rose to the surface and were removed. This was done repeatedly with constant oversight by the refiner to ensure the gold was specifically heated to release different impurities. A refiner used heat to produce the genuine article of gold; too much heat would destroy it. After this process was completed, the gold ore was now pure and extremely valuable.

When we are put through the crucible, when the heat is turned up, many of the impurities in our lives come to the surface. It is made apparent that those lessons we believed we already had learned need refinement. Our sin nature is revealed for what it is. Yet trials can also confirm convictions. We realize we have grown in our reliance upon God’s strength and not our own. Trials are an opportunity for our faith to be proven. The Lord’s intent in proving our faith through trials is not to see us fail, but to see us succeed. He wants pure gold which can only be produced by heat. As one preacher puts it, the furnace is “God’s school.”

However, that does not sound like a school most would willingly apply for. Reading a book on parenting or brain surgery does not a parent or surgeon make. God allows the trial to enter our life; we would never willingly sign up for them! Character is often crafted by the heat of trial. It is not absorbed via textbook. The Lord tells Judah in the midst of the threat of destruction from foreign nations, “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction (Isaiah 48:10).” God was concerned with their spiritual strength as well as His glory.

The scope and nature of trials seems to go on ad infinitum. Suffering hits us physically, emotionally, and relationally. There are a myriad of means God can employ to grow us in faith towards Him. Through it our character grows, our faith is tested for approval, we are less apt to take God’s blessings for granted, and our reliance upon Him increases. Heaven becomes that much more attractive to us. Finally, we are able to understand and comfort others who have walked the same road. When you are able to find a kindred spirit in how you’ve suffered, there is sometimes no greater earthly comfort. I concede this message is much easier to write than to live. Yet, if I could look you in the eye, I would tell you your pain has purpose.

We are not unique in our trials. All of mankind experiences suffering as a consequence of our sin-infested world. It is much better to suffer in this world under the guidance of the Master Refiner with the hope of eternity. If you have not placed yourself under His care, if you have not believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, make that day today. The suffering and trial that you are going through is intended to lead you towards Him, not away from Him. He is intimately acquainted with your suffering. He sacrificed His own Son for your eternal salvation.

If the furnace in your life is turned up at the moment, it means that the Lord is working.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design,
Thy dross to consume and they gold to refine.