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Some time ago, so the story goes, a few ladies met to study the scriptures. While reading the third chapter of Malachi, they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse: "And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver" (Malachi 3:3).
One lady decided to visit a silversmith, and report to the others on what he said about the subject.
She went accordingly, and without telling him the reason for her visit, begged the silversmith to tell her about the process of refining silver.
After he had fully described it to her, she asked, "Sir, do you sit while the work of refining is going on?" "Oh, yes ma'am," replied the silversmith; "I must sit and watch the furnace constantly, for, if the time necessary for refining is exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured."
The lady at once saw the beauty and comfort of the expression, "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."
God sees it necessary to put His children into the furnace; but His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for us. Our trials do not come at random, and He will not let us be tested beyond what we can endure.
Before she left, the lady asked one final question, "How do you know when the process is complete?"
"That's quite simple," replied the silversmith.
"When I can see my own image in the silver, the refining process is finished."
We are the silver; God is the silversmith. The fire and the heat get rid of the impurities and ultimately, we become more like God. Whatever calamity befalls us, God has our eternal good in view.
God may not have a specific lesson to teach us every time we suffer, but He does have a good purpose in view.
In Romans 8:28 we read: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose".
God has designed all of life (including suffering) to make us in His image. Nothing that we suffer in this life can prevent this process from reaching its divinely purposed outcome.
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