Sunday, July 04, 2010

Are you being refined?

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 66:1-20

TO CHEW ON: "For You, O God, have tested us;
You have refined us as silver is refined.
You brought us into the net;
You laid affliction on our backs.
You have caused men to ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water;
But You brought us out to rich fulfillment." Psalm 66:10-12

The silver in the trinkets we wear has gone through a lot to get to its beautiful sheen. Because silver is usually discovered combined with other minerals it is subjected to various processes to isolate it and make it pure. Depending on what it is mixed with, it may be roasted, leached with acid, smelted, ground, refined in an electrolyte solution, added to molten bullion and treated by cupellation (which heats the silver-containing residue to a temperature of 800 C or 1450 F). So when the psalmist talks about us being refined as silver is refined, he is not talking about a pleasant process.

Whenever I come to passages like Psalm 66, which describe people going through such refining, a voice inside my head says, "Who are you to talk?" Because the truth is, I have not experienced much of such extreme refining in my life. However, I do know that even the light 'roasting' I went through stuck on the couch for a few weeks, many years ago, waiting for a troubled pregnancy to settle down and go to term, or end prematurely, was not fun (especially when it ended prematurely).

I did come through that experience refined and richer in many ways. I was more understanding of the hurts of others. I was less confident in my ability to make my plans and dreams happen. I was thankful for the supports in my life (my husband, family and church friends). And I was more determined than ever to trust God, even when I didn't understand what He was doing.

I will not pretend to know what your refining experience is like or presume to give you advice on how to handle it. But I do hope and pray that you will come through it pure, strong and beautiful. May the result find you bursting with praises like the psalmist's: "Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul" Psalm 66:16.

You may already know the verses below by memory. If not, you may want to put them on your 'to memorize' list for the future. When you are in the middle of a refining time, they will give you perspective. If things are going well for you, memorize them against the day that refining fire enters your life:

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 
1 Peter 1:6-7 (besides the NKJV translation quoted, the link goes to this verse in four more Bible versions - so choose your favorite).
PRAYER: Dear God, please be with my friends who are in the midst of refining -- coping with cancer or other physical problems, dealing with difficult family situations, caring for elderly parents, struggling with career disappointments etc. May each one come out pure, beautiful and praising You. Amen.

MORE: Happy Independence Day!!

Today is the day our neighbours in the U.S. celebrate their nation and the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 -- the day they declared independence from Great Britain. They celebrate with parades, community festivals, family picnics and barbecues, concerts, games (especially baseball), public gatherings, speeches, and of course end the day with fireworks.

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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