A silversmith refines silver to get rid of impurities; this adds to the silver’s value. Long ago, a silversmith would sit for hours in front of the refining fire, carefully watching the process the entire time. He knew that unless he was very careful, he might ruin the whole project. He also knew that until he saw his likeness in the silver, his work was not done. Throughout history, God has used various means to refine and shape His people—both nations and people. Jeremiah reminds us of how God used famine to refine ancient Israel. We read this in Jeremiah chapter 14: “This message came to Jeremiah from the Lord, explaining why he was holding back the rain. Judah wilts; commerce at the city gates grinds to a halt. All the people sit on the ground in mourning and a great cry rises from Jerusalem. The nobles send servants to get water; but all the wells are dry. The servants return with empty pitchers, confused and desperate, covering their heads in grief. The ground is parched and cracked for lack of rain.” Now we know that not every trial we face is due to some sin. God refines some of His people to be models for others. That is His right as a sovereign God. While we never know when nor how God refines people, we know He does so. Our task is to repent of any known sin and trust His love and mercy as the fire refines.
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