When the heat becomes unbearable, remember your Refiner is standing by the furnace. In Biblical times, metal was purified by being placed in a clay crucible and then stuck inside a furnace until it melted. Once the metal had melted, the constant, intense heat would cause any impurities (dross) to rise to the surface. The refiner frequently used one of his tools to skim the dross from the surface of the molten metal. After repeating this process several times, he bent over the furnace to see if his reflection was visible. Seeing his reflection in the metal proved that it had been completely purified.
God purifies believers in the fiery furnace of affliction so that He can see His reflection in our lives. The refining process is painful and uncomfortable, but it builds our character and increases our faith in a way nothing else can. It also brings our impurities to the surface so that God can remove them. The more dross is removed, the more we will reflect His image.
Everyone has to face trials in life, and each trial is tailored to the individual. There are some things you are going through right now which I could never bear, and there are some struggles I am facing which you might not be able to endure. Regardless of the specific kind of trials we face, they all have one thing in common: God uses them to draw out our impurities and cause us to reflect Christ better. Pain, the loss of a job, difficult people, health problems, circumstances beyond our control, and even religious persecution may be used for this purpose. The heat may be difficult to bear right now — you will hurt and face confusion, grief, disappointment, and feel like you lack a sense of direction through it all — but the changes it makes on your character will be well worth it. When others see you, they will see that you reflect the image of your Refiner.
Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder