I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.” Isaiah 48:10 (NLT).
I got to go to the skin doctor last week. That’s right…I got to go. My skin doctor is located in Paduach so that meant I could jail break. Judy and I hopped in our zippy little car and headed south. It was good just to be going somewhere…even if it was to the doctor. When we arrived, there were special precautions. It reminded me of what going into the White House might be like. Sitting in my car instead of the waiting room, masks, temperature checks. I’m sure I saw a Secret Service agent poking around the corner.
So anyway, I finally made it inside. Now this was a skin check. They look and make sure something is not growing that shouldn’t be there. Being a southern boy who regularly thought it was cool to go to the beach and get sunburned, this is particularly important. What I thought was cool then is setting me up for skin cancers and the like now.
So, the nice skin doctor (at least I think it was her…she had a mask on…she could have been the secretary for all I knew) came in and checked me over. You will be glad to know that things went well. She did find one “pre-cancer” thingy on my ear. She said they should freeze it off. I said, “Yes Ma’am, you go right ahead.” So, she got her little freezing tool and cut loose. Ouch.
I have had this done before but I forgot how bad it hurt. It’s funny…freezing feels a whole lot like burning. There is a reason. Liquid nitrogen, the stuff they use for this, is -346 degrees. Yup… you read that right. I had a couple of other things that needed to be frozen, so she did those too. Speaking of frozen, after this chilling experience, I wonder how all those Disney characters could be so happy in that Frozen movie. Anyway, it was over, it was done. After a couple of hours the pain went away and so did the pre-cancer.
You know, sometimes pain is part of the process. In this case I was probably part of the problem. My neglect earlier led to a situation that had to be fixed—painfully fixed. Sometimes it isn’t our fault at all. Sometimes it is just part of life. Sometimes it is for our good. And that is where God comes in.
God loves us a lot. He knows what is good and what is best for us. Sometimes that means pleasant trips and sunshiny days. Sometimes it means pain. There are some lessons, and yes, some consequences, that require a season of pain to teach us. No one likes them. In fact, sometimes we get just a little mad at God. That is where faith comes in. Is He a loving Father? Yup. Is He all wise? Yup? Does He have our good at His heart? Yup. Are we willing to trust Him? Well, that’s just a little harder.
At least twice in the Bible the scriptures talk about the “refiner’s fire.” Proverbs 17:3 puts it this way, “A crucible for silver, and a smelter for gold, and the Lord is the tester of hearts.” The metalsmith will heat gold or silver to the point it melts and then all the impurities will float to the surface. He does this again and again till he can look into the pot and he can see the reflection of his face in the molten metal. The.reflection.of.his.face.
Our Abba Father, our dearest daddy, loves us enough to allow us to go through the fire and make us more and more like Him. And that usually means suffering. In Isaiah 48:10, God says, “I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.” Some suffering is easier than others but honestly, none of it is pleasant—but it is all purposeful. God doesn’t know wasted suffering. Remember that.
So, as we walk these twisted paths we call life, whether it is twisted by the coronavirus or an illness or a tough circumstance, remember that God is with you and He is in control. He.is.in.control. You see, He is honestly more interested in our holiness than our happiness. Don’t take that harshly. As God’s kids, we are happiest when we are holiest. It’s just the truth. That path, the one directed by Him, means less regrets and less consequences. So, no matter what today looks like…trust Him. Rest in Him. He’s got this.