See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction (Is. 48:10, NIV)
God does not refine His children in a literal furnace of fire. He has a furnace of another sort that accomplishes His refining process. It is the furnace of affliction.
Affliction means “hardship, trouble, adversity, distress and trial.” I especially like the word hardship. I imagine it has its origins in the description of a difficult passage on a vessel at sea. It is a vessel of no escape on which one is transported from one port to another. During such a voyage, you like where you are going, but you do not like the process of getting there!
Likewise, a furnace is a place of no escape. There is no interior release handle, so you might as well be refined as quickly as possible. You won’t exit the process until you have achieved the desired state of purity.
I believe with all my heart that God is more concerned with our condition than our comfort. He would rather have us temporarily uncomfortable than eternally tormented.
Has God placed you in a season of refining to transform and purify you? Although this may be uncomfortable for the time being, think how much fruit this transformation will bring in your life! Be patient with God and allow Him to purify your heart. Take a moment now to pray:
Father, I know Your intentions toward me are always for my good. If You allow a season of hardship, it is so that I can be refined. In this difficult and sometimes painful time, I know that You are with me. Holy Spirit, I invite You to transform my heart. Strengthen me and make me a fitting vessel to carry Your gospel in my sphere of influence. Thank You, Father, for loving me so much that You want me to grow in Your image. I choose to make that my desire, too. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Adapted from Be Angry But Don’t Blow It: Maintaining Your Passion Without Losing Your Cool (Thomas Nelson, 2000).