Christianity is not a viable path to earthly comfort. A vast and intricate knowledge of Church history is not necessary to understand this truth. Life in Christ is difficult. Martyrdom abounds. Believers suffer ridicule. They face humbling circumstances. They endure loss while others seem to prosper. Sometimes the difficulty is the fault of the believer; sometimes it is simply the consequence of living in a world marred by sin. But difficulty shouldn’t be a surprise for God’s people. The testimony of the Scriptures should cause us to expect it. And because of this, believers can suffer well—knowing God uses this very thing to discipline and purify them.
Those to whom the prophet Zechariah spoke understood hardship. They had seen societal collapse, foreign invasion, exile, and slavery. Yet God’s promise through Zechariah is a day of redemption through the Messiah. Tucked in Zechariah 13:9, this promise is given: “And I will put (the remnant) into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested” (ESV).
It’s a counterintuitive word of hope, isn’t it? God refines his people in the furnace of trial and discipline. Refining precious metals is an intense process. The metal is heated to molten temperatures so that the impurities can be purged and only the pure metal remains. Peter uses this same analogy when he says believers are “grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of (our) faith … may be found to result in praise and glory and honor” when Christ returns (I Peter 1:6-7). Zechariah says this refinement will result in God’s people placing their hope and joy in the Lord and being called his children. This refinement of God, though painful, is a gift of his love. It draws us to him and is part of the process of being renewed in the image of Christ, who suffered so that we may have true life.
Our theme at FLBC this year is “Refined by Fire.” While many think this time set aside to study God’s Word at FLBC should shelter students from trials, this process is far from easy. Challenges abound. Yet Christ, the master refiner, uses this time spent in his Word to purify and cleanse his children. While that process is painful in the moment, the results reassure us that God is at work in us. He who works all things together for good never fails to use the “various trials” for the good of his people.
Pastor Adam Osier [FLBC Dean]
Share this Post