"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, June 3, 2011

TESTED BY FIRE

Proverbs 17:3 (NLT) "Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart."


Last summer a large prairie fire swept through the rolling hills of a neighboring community where I live. In minutes the blaze devoured hundreds of acres and several homes. A couple in our church barely escaped with their lives before their house burned to the ground. Yesterday, another friend shared the experience of her family's devastating house fire that occurred two weeks ago. Yet, another personal friend shared his loss through two different house fires, losing everything.

The nature of fire is to consume and destroy whatever it comes in contact with. The charred remains leave an aftermath of loss and devastation. How similar it is when trials and difficulties sweep into our lives leaving us scarred, changed and in need of restoration. Heartache leaves our soul laid bare. We become vulnerable in our grief as we are exposed to the elements of emptiness and frustration.

Trials and tragedy catapult truth into our lives. The truth of who we really are and how we handle life's difficulties is revealed when everything else is taken away.

Proverbs 17:3 reveals such wisdom. "Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart." A little search into Wikipedia revealed some insightful information about silversmiths. When silver is mined it is contaminated. In order to purify it, the silver is hammered and broken into pieces and then placed into a crucible. The crucible is then put into the fire.

When silver is in the fire it softens and the impurities rise to the top. The silversmith then skims off the dross. He heats up the fire again, even to temperatures as high as 2000 degrees, and puts the crucible back into the fire. This process can be done several times until the impurities are purged and the silversmith can see his reflection through the glimmering silver. It is the fire that purifies the silver and causes the impurities to be removed.

How will we respond to adversity? When we are in the fire it is an opportunity for the Lord to purify us. Human nature is to preserve ourselves, to ward off difficulty and burdens. I don't see too many people in line waiting to purchase a bag of burdens. Scripture tells us that trials serve a purpose in our lives; They strengthen and mature us. 1 Peter 1:6-7 tells us that trials prove the genuineness of our faith. When we allow trials to refine us others will begin to see the reflection of Christ in us.

Three months after our third son was born and six weeks after a major move, my mother was given three months to live. The last few months of her life, along with the next few years of mine, were some of the darkest days of my life. Grief consumed me while I spiraled downward to a pit of despair.

The ache in my heart grew larger while anger boiled within. The hurt was so deep I became desperate. The grief process was a long and difficult journey.

God began to reveal much to me regarding the condition of my heart. In my brokenness, my soul was laid bare, my heart unzipped. God tenderly showed me how I compared myself to others, how I judged others and imposed my own agenda onto people. I was prideful and lacked a proper view of grace.

Slowly with time, sunshine began to burst forth from my heart. I surrendered these areas of weakness that I so desperately wanted Jesus to fix. My relationship with Him began to experience the sweetest intimacy I have ever known.

In my desperation and rawness I learned what it means to be utterly dependent on God. I moved beyond simply "knowing" to fully believing and truly living like Jesus is all I need. The greatest growth I have experienced has come through the fire of pain. The Holy Spirit continues to provide the hope and endurance I need to persevere.

Jesus didn't just leave me in the fire. He taught me how to humbly accept being tested by fire.
Through His process of refinement I have experienced the power and work of God in my life. He continues to forge me into His masterpiece so that I might better reflect His glory.

Although I prayed and prayed for God to heal my mother, He, in His infinite and sovereign wisdom, chose to heal my heart.



Heart Work:
Ask God to help you obtain a godly perspective on heartache and difficulty. This is only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Reflect on past heartaches and the lessons you learned or the growth you experienced.


Heart Exam:
What infernos are you currently experiencing in your life?

How are you responding to these trials?

How can the hope of Christ sustain you through them? How can the faithfulness of God strengthen you in spite of them?

What impurities may God be purging from your life?


Heart Changing Word:
Isaiah 1:25 (NLT) "I will raise my fist against you. I will melt you down and skim off your slag. I will remove all your impurities."

Psalm 12:6 "And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times."

Proverbs 25:4 "Remove the impurities from silver, and the sterling will be ready for the silversmith."

Proverbs 27:21a "Fire tests the purity of silver and gold."

Romans 5:3-5 (NIV) "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

Philippians 3:10 "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings."

James 1:2-4 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature, and complete, not lacking anything."

1 Peter 1:6-7 "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."




Copyright 2011 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.