by: Rich Vaughan
Yesterday I mentioned in my devotional that our Monday Morning Men’s Bible Study would soon be studying the Biblical book, Habakkuk. Very little is known about that prophet who was a contemporary of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, & Zephaniah. What is known is that he was a deep thinker and a man of considerable literary skill. He writes somewhere around the time of 625-600 BC. This is about the time of the fall of the Assyrian Empire and the rise of the Babylonian Empire. Habakkuk, like Jeremiah, has some serious questions for God. He wants to know why God isn’t doing something during this period of violence, wickedness, and no justice. He is troubled by all the evil in his world and the Lord’s seemingly lack of response. It is a question often posed and wrestled with by theologians, pastors, and laity down through time. Like Habakkuk and others, we do not like going through trials and fires. We much prefer banquets and parties. And when the trails and fires come we too often question God’s response. I would like to tell you I have just the answer for each one of us concerning this area, but I don’t. However, I have learned some things during my faith journey that I can share. One of those things is known as the “refiner’s fire”. It is based on a story I ran across years ago that can be tied into some verses of scripture and can be a life lesson for us all. The story goes like this:
“As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over a fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were the hottest as to burn away the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about a verse that says: ‘He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver’ (Malachi 3:3). She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, ‘How do you know when the silver is fully refined?’ He smiled at her and answered, ‘Oh that’s easy – when I see my image in it.’”
As I said, I don’t have all the answers to all the issues of life. But as uncomfortable as it may be, there seems to be times when God is refining us. If that is the case, will we reflect His image in our life? It’s a question we should seriously ponder in this very unusual year of 2020.
Amen & Amen.
TOMORROW: A continuation with scriptures of the refiner’s fire.