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Tried In the Furnace

Isaiah 48:10 (ESV) -- Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.

The idea of God purposefully sticking us in a fiery trial is unthinkable for many Christians. The Christian expectation lying underneath most believers’ theology is that God is supposed to protect them from discomfort and troubles. The idea that God may purposefully send us into the fire seems contrary to everything they believe. Yet Scripture abounds with these examples. 

In today’s passage, Isaiah 48:10 gives us an example of this. God speaks and says, “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.” This verse, and many like it, force us to reimagine our false doctrinal positions. We see here, and many other places, that God refines and tests us in afflictions. These tests show who we are and what we really believe. 

You’ll see this to be true if you take a moment for reflection. Have you ever noticed that nothing reveals what you truly believe about God until suffering and sorrows come? You’ll see what your faith is. You’ll see what your unspoken expectations are. A lot of things come to the surface when we have pain. This is what is meant by “I have tried you.” 

What is God’s purpose in these fires of affliction? To refine us. These trials grow us and mature us. It is in the fire that we are taught dependence on God. We are stripped of things we hold too closely. We are shown aspirations that we give too much prominence, only to see that they don’t mean much at all. Trials recalibrate our lives and remind us of what matters the most—our relationship and walk with God. We need Him, and trials quickly remind us of this.

The Word of God ought to inform our thinking about God. Throughout Scripture, we are taught about the nature of tribulations and troubles. God is sovereign over them. God uses them in our lives for divine purposes we don’t always understand. We must repent of unbiblical thinking and expectations that God would prevent all troubles from ever touching us. Ask God to help you trust Him through the trials in your life. Repent of any unbiblical ideas you’ve picked up along the way, and submit your thinking to Scripture.

Reflection & Journal: 
- Why do most Christians carry around the expectation of no trials in their lives?
- What happens when trials come and we thought God was supposed to prevent them?
- How does God strategically use trials in our lives? In what ways have you experienced this?

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