The Refiner’s Fire

Did you ever have a Sunday morning when you just KNEW that Satan didn’t want you to go to church? I mean, every possible physical obstacle was placed in your path or your mind was in such a state that you knew that spiritual warfare was taking place? This morning, I awoke in a major funk and really didn’t understand why. I always want to go to church; this morning was the first I can remember in years and years that I didn’t. In my heart of hearts, the Holy Spirit prompted me and well, yes, prodded me right to my usual place at the keyboard, barely in time to be able to get on the platform before the service technically started. The praise and worship were immediately drawing me to the feet of Jesus, as it always does, but when I took my seat in the pew and Pastor began to speak, each word revealed a little more of why Satan didn’t want me there today.

The title of Pastor’s sermon: “Why Am I Going Through This?” based on the book of Job. You see, I have a daughter who is dying. Very slowly, but her disease is incurable. The average life span is ten to fifteen years and I am well aware of this fact as we go throughout our daily lives. As she loses more functioning and I am relying on staff to help me care for her needs, the bitterness of the situation sets in. Pastor’s introductory point: “Anything that happens to us is either appointed by God or allowed by God.” The truth for me is that I don’t feel sorry for myself because I have a daughter with a rare disease, but I feel completely sorry for her. And I get angry at God every now and then because I know He has the power to heal her, but hasn’t. Pastor’s three main points this morning: We need to understand God’s power, His purpose, and His promise. Now I get the whole power thing, I really do. The power of Jesus’ name alone is beyond what my mind is capable of understanding. I believe in that power! And His purpose is different for each and every person on this earth; we are uniquely designed and utilized. Amen! I so agree with that. But then, Pastor brought in a word called “suffering.” A word that I detest. A word that my mother personified when she went to Heaven via leukemia almost ten years ago. A word with which my sweet innocent daughter is identified. So what is the purpose of suffering? It is through suffering that God reveals Himself. Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” If we had nothing to turn to Him for, would we ever turn to Him? It is also through suffering that we are refined. The dross of our lives is burned away and what truly matters is all that is left. This refining process tames, tests and teaches us. Psalm 119:71, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” David is saying that he’s a knucklehead and the school of hard knocks was the way he learned the promises of God are true! (RCV- Rachel’s country version) So what is the promise of God? Pastor didn’t use this verse, but Psalm 126:5 came to mind, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” God will not let the suffering be in vain! He has a plan for the suffering and there is a reward for the suffering. The service closed today with an amazing song that I’ve known since a kid, “Through It All.” Funny how the words meant more today than they ever have. But another song came to mind today as well. The Refiner’s Fire by Jon Mohr. Read these words: “There burns a fire with sacred heat, white hot with holy flame. And all who dare pass through its blaze will not emerge the same. Some are bronze, and some are silver, some are gold then with great skill all are hammered by their sufferings on the anvil of His will. I’m learning now to trust His touch to crave the fire’s embrace. For though my past with sin was etched His mercies did erase. Each time His purging cleanses deeper, I’m not sure how I’ll survive. Yet the strength in growing weaker keeps my hungry soul alive. The Refiner’s fire has now become my soul’s desire. Purged, cleansed and purified, that the Lord may be glorified. He is consuming my soul, refining me, making me whole. No matter what I may lose, I choose the Refiner’s fire!” So today, I choose the fire. I’ll have to choose it again tomorrow, but His mercies are new every morning. Great is HIS faithfulness!

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