And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”Zechariah 13:9 ESV
One of the most fascinating things to watch is the process of taking raw material in various shapes and sizes, and making them into something completely different, from super-heating the material, to pressing and hammering it into the desired shape, each strike as intentional and precise as the last. Last year, I came across a show on the History Channel called “Forged in Fire”, in which blade smiths encounter three grueling rounds of challenges designed to test every aspect of their abilities. I began watching it purely out of boredom, but was quickly taken in by the pride they take in their work, and the idea of watching these lumps of steel become something they can be proud of.
The process of turning raw materials into something completely different always starts with a vision. The smith knows what he is going to do with the steel; he can see the end product before he picks up a hammer. However, before the metal will budge an inch, it must be superheated to make it malleable under the force of his tools. So, with a forge averaging temperatures between 2,150-2,375 degrees Fahrenheit, the smith puts his creation in the fire until it glows a bright white; this tells him it’s perfect for shaping as he sees fit.
Now, consider the awe-inspiring foresight God had when he made you and me. He has a specific vision for each one of His creations, from the time we were forming in our mothers’ wombs. When the Lord called Jeremiah to be His prophet, he told him, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5 NIV). He had a vision, a divine plan for him, before he entered into the earth. Such is the craftsmanship of our God, and that same God that declared these words to the prophet Jeremiah is the same today.
God takes great pride in His work. Every action is with divine purpose according to the plan He’s drawn from the very beginning of time. We all enter this world as a beautiful creation, made in the very image of God Himself, our very being consisting of layer upon layer of different “materials” which make us 100% unique. The enemy sees our potential as well, so he seeks to corrupt us to keep us from our purpose. However, when a material contains impurities, the smith doesn’t throw it away, but puts it to the fire so that those impurities are removed, leaving it purified metal.
In the context of life, going through the fire is a struggle, often filled with pain, uncertainty, loss, anger, or any other combination of emotions brought on by trying circumstances or tragedy that question everything we believe. This leads to asking God, “Where are you?”, “How could you allow this to happen?”, or maybe we have no words due to the sheer mental and physical exhaustion we feel trying to bear the weight of our burdens. I tend to go the way of the turtle: slip into my shell and shut everyone else out; that is, until my emotions boil over and I find myself bawling in front of my whole family.
What God has shown me is that I was never alone, that He will stand in the fire with me, and I will not be burned, just as His servants in the Old Testament:
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leapt to his feet in amazement and asked his advisors, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”Daniel 3:24-25 NIV
Are you going through something that’s too much for you to handle? Have you spent years of your life just trying to survive the day-to-day chaos that seems unending? Then you and I have this in common.
The Father doesn’t want the intensity and complexity of life’s struggles to destroy you, but to strengthen your faith and trust in Him to where no enemy can break it. You were never alone in this fight, and will never be alone, because there is another in the fire, and He will keep the flames from overtaking you. God placed a calling on your life before He even handcrafted you. Compared to that, any plan we make is insignificant, and will only bring about our destruction. When we surrender to God’s process, we will be made a brilliant light on the other side, shining with the light of God’s love in a world darkened by sin and corruption.
I pray that we would make a daily decision to submit to God’s perfect plan, and trust Him in all of our trials. I pray that the “fires” in our lives would not tear us down, but temper us as steel in the hands of a master, strengthening our resolve to see the lost come home to God’s salvation.