The story is told of a group of ladies who met together every week to study the Bible. When they got to the book of Malachi in the Old Testament, they came upon the third verse of the third chapter, which says that the Lord “will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver. Curious about what this verse was saying about the character of God, one of the women volunteered to find out more about the process of refining silver before their next meeting.
Later in the week, this woman arranged with a local silversmith to go and watch him at work. She didn’t explain the reason for her interest, but merely said that she was interested in the process. As she watched the silversmith working on a particular piece, he explained that the only way to purify and refine silver is to hold it in the middle of the fire where the flames are the hottest so that all the impurities are burned away.
The woman thought back on Malachi 3:3, and remembered that it specifically mentioned that God sits as a refiner and purifier of silver. She asked the silversmith if it was important for him to stay there the entire time the silver was being refined, or if he could walk away and come back later.
The silversmith told her that he not only had to stay there, he had to keep his eyes on the silver every second, because if it was left in the flames even a moment too long, it would be damaged.
Intrigued, the woman asked how he knew the exact moment the silver was fully refined.
The silversmith smiled knowingly and said “That’s easy. I know it’s refined when I see my image reflected in it.”
When we feel the heat of the Refiner’s fire throughout our day to day trials and heartaches, what a precious comfort it is to know that our God is still fully in control, His eyes never leave us, and there is purpose in the struggle. And what strength and confidence we gain from the knowledge that we are “predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son” (Romans 8:29).