Saturday, June 16, 2007

If this is the refiner's fire, it looks like hell

My heart is heavy. I guess that's the best way to describe it. My heart is heavy. It just seems like so many are going through so much right now, and it makes me so, so, uggghhh. I feel so desperate for my friends and loved ones, and so guilty that although I have my struggles, they are by no stretch of the imagination the struggles that others are facing. It's hard to know what to say, how to pray, what to do. I'm scared that I'll be one of Job's friends, telling them to just "curse God and die". I don't want to be that friend, but it's hard to know what to say when you don't know why things are happening. I know that it's not their fault, it's not that they've angered God by committing some unspeakable sin. Maybe it would be easier to know what to say if they had.

A friend and I were talking about these things and she gave some great scripture. Another friend gave the word "don't let my disciples fall asleep". Wow. So I promise you, dear friends, that I will not fall asleep. I have to confess that I was getting drowsy, though. The only thing I know for sure is that I will pray. And when there's no answer, I promise to pray harder. It reminds me of Nehemiah 4:16-17: "But from then on, only half my men worked while the other half stood guard with spears, shields, bows and coats of mail. The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon."

I promise you that I will carry on our work with a tool in one hand and a weapon in the other.

So in pondering all these things I was reminded of an e-mail between my brother and I, nearly three years ago. It went like this:

"Dear Sister,

God gave my mind a million dollar house. It has many bedrooms, bathrooms, dens, studies, fountains, spiral stairways, views of a thousand acre yard with countless trees and flowers, and an especially good media room. The thing is that the "General Contractor" hired an electrician that didn't really know what he was doing. From time to time when I need to turn on a light or use an appliance everything shorts out and the place goes dark and silent. The problem is so persistent that instead of attacking each problem individually I must remove all the wires from within the walls and sort them out. This means replacing drywall, carpet, repainting, etc. The finished product, I think, will be a great one, but like any project of this magnitude, it has to get worse before it gets better. You know what I'm saying?"

My reply:

"Dear Brother,

I too had a house built by the same "General Contractor", I believe in the same subdivision. I realized after some time of living there that there was a huge problem with my electrical wiring. After consulting an attorney about possibly suing the "General Contractor" for his faulty work, he advised me that my only option was to confront the general contractor about the problem and demand that he fix it. So, off I go to the contractor's office. We had a lengthy discussion, and a lot of arguing was had. It was then that he told me that I had actually wired my own house. At first I protested, saying he must be wrong, but of course he's never wrong. I tried many different ways to correct my faulty electricity, all of which failed. Then one day the contractor came knocking at my door. He told me that he could fix the problem, if I agreed to let him in my house, but that it would take a long time to fix, and that I would also have to agree to him tearing everything down. This would require a lot of heartache on my part, not only of having to deal with the headache of a torn up house, but also I would have to endure the process altogether and allow the contractor to be in complete control. Well, several years have passed and some progress has been made, but there is still no end in sight. Funny thing is, I've actually grown to admire this contractor. I count on him to be at my house when I awake, and to still be working into the night long after I have laid my head to rest. I count on him to eventually get the project done, and have come to terms that it never will be."

While I may not know the reason, I know that our God is a sovereign God, and that everything that happens to us HE will use to GLORIFY those that love him.

I leave you with Malachi 3:2-3a: "Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver."

While it may not be my time in the refiner's fire, I've been there before and know I will be there again. To my friends and loved ones who are in the refiner's fire right now, know that the end result is gold and silver.