“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.” Malachi 3:3 (ESV)
Do the battles in your life sometimes feel constant?
Let me be the first to say I understand. It’s exhausting.
There are times when it feels like I hardly get one issue resolved when another seems to pop up. It’s not that I go looking for problems; they just seem to be incredibly adept at finding me.
I’m learning, though, to start trying to view troubles as growth opportunities. This gives me a chance to recognize that God is shaping and molding me to fit the calling He's given me.
The growth opportunities remind me God is interested in my character more than my comfort.
Which brings us to a passage of Scripture I’d love to look at closely together today. In Malachi 3, God wanted His people to know He cared about their character:
The Lord declared through the prophet Malachi: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD” (Malachi 3:1-3, ESV).
The word “messenger” in this passage actually refers to John the Baptist (Matthew 11:10-14), who went before Jesus to prepare the people’s hearts for Jesus’ first coming. Now, all of us who place our faith in Jesus are the messengers God has called to prepare people for His second coming. But that means our own hearts need to be purified so we can mature in our calling (James 1:4).
Malachi 3:2 reveals that the Lord comes both “like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap” (ESV).
Fullers’ soap (or alkali) was a strong soap used in the Ancient Near East to whiten clothing. And the refiner’s fire? This is a method of purifying precious metals with intense heat. Impurities rise to the top, where they can be skimmed off and discarded. The way a refiner knows that the process of purification is complete is by looking into the open furnace and checking whether he can see his reflection in the metal. He knows the dross has all burnt away when he can see himself clearly.
This is what we were made to do — clearly reflect the image of our Maker. Genesis 1:27 tells us God created us in His likeness and image. But when sin entered the world, we were marred by sin. We were left spiritually impure. That’s why God designed His purification process to remove our impurity and restore our ability to reflect the goodness of God Himself.
Another name for this refining work is “sanctification.” It’s the Lord’s continual process of making us holy and wholly set apart for Him. And today's Bible passage reminds us that sometimes the sanctification process involves suffering.
I saw such a vivid depiction of this when I took my children to a silversmith’s workshop when they were younger. We saw firsthand how the magnificently beautiful pieces in the showroom had to undergo a grueling process in the workroom. There was pounding, turning, heating, and then even more pounding before the polishing. For the silversmith to put his name on a piece, the silver had to submit to treatment we might say is harsh and cruel.
But every painful blow the silver endures … every scorching second it sits in the fire … each moment has great purpose. And the results are truly stunning.
Oh, how I pray this will stir our hearts to trust God in the midst of our troubles. Our God is not a cruel God. He allows the heating and shaping, the abrasive rubs and polishing in our lives, for a reason. They are purifying and smoothing us so we will reflect Him.
Is it always an easy process? No. It’s not. But is it worth the discomfort to reflect our Creator beautifully and have lives that point hearts toward Him? I truly believe so. These growth opportunities will grow us … if we let them.
Friend, whatever is causing you pain, suffering, discomfort or anxiety, you will survive this and come out on the other side. Hold on to the truth that nothing God allows us to go through is pointless. Even in the midst of hurt, He will work things together for our good and His glory.
Lord, I’m so thankful that I can trust You, even in the most difficult and refining seasons of my life. Shape me. Purify me. Make me look more and more like You. I want to reflect You in all I say and do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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Have you had a day recently where you hit a hard spot and found yourself wondering, Am I going to make it? What if I can’t do this? Lysa TerKeurst understands. That’s why she joined her Licensed Professional Counselor, Jim Cress, and Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Director of Theological Research, Dr. Joel Muddamalle, to record a bonus episode of Therapy & Theology titled “What if I Can’t Do This?” Even if you just need a reminder today that you’re not alone, this conversation is for you.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (ESV).
Let the truth of this verse settle in your heart. As you’re reassured that nothing God allows us to go through is pointless, how can you ask Him to help you in “the sufferings of this present time”? Share with us in the comments!
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