Annie, in the classic Broadway musical, sings with her friends from personal experience that it is a” Hard Knock Life“. I have expended a lot of ink lately blaming the wiles of Satan and his evil minions(I just love saying evil minions!) as the source of many of our troubles which we have dominion over. While this is certainly true, it is not the only source of uncomfortable problems so I want to address this before moving on to more of those pesky open doors.
We don’t need to be rocket scientists to realize that we live in a fallen world full of trouble, thanks to our mutual ancestors Adam and Eve. As little orphan Annie so aptly put it, it has been ever since the garden of Eden, a Hard Knocks Life and it can be a very tough school to graduate from.
That said, Scripture also writes of the process of the “refiner’s fire” Used to purify us and make us better, stronger and hone our holy focus. God didn’t cause it but He uses it, turns it for a good purpose. Romans 8:28.
In the very extended process of doing the research for Fever Season I have tried to learn as much as I can about mining. There is panning for gold, then sluicing so you can sift more quickly thru more dirt if you find a good spot along the river. At some point the whole process goes under-ground as Hard Tack mining: looking for the source of the flakes and small nuggets which have leached into the water. Once found, that vein will be followed until it plays out or is lost by some enormous, prehistoric shift in the geography which makes it inaccessible.
As I live in Lake City, an old mining town in Colorado, I recently re-visited my friends, George and Beth Hurd’s, Hard Tack Mine Tour. If you are in the neighborhood I recommend going. It is fun and educational and I always learn something new.
The tour guide explained that gold and silver– especially silver- don’t present themselves in a pristine state. These minerals tenaciously glom and glob together with other minerals and compounds. The old single-jack, or double-jack miners would wield a jack and a hammer or a pic ax to extract the ore or dynamite charges were set in deep holes to blow up the ore. It is and was a dangerous, complex and expensive process to get that precious gold and silver metals they were hunting, out of the mountain, and extracted from that ore-cart full of rocks.
Big stamp mills crushed the ore into manageableproportions. The likely, good prospects were sorted from the duds, then a variety of heat and often toxic chemical processes were applied to the ore to encourage the extraneous, unwanted compounds to release themselves from the really valuable minerals which were wanted to refine further.
Ore must always be refined to remove impurities before it is clean enough to be useful for coins, bars, jewelry and the like. Likewise, we as believers must go thru the stamp mill of life and a refining process to knock off all the worldly compounds that have glommed on to each one of us.
The Hebrew people that Moses led out of bondage had to go thru 40 years of desert meandering to get the residual “Egypt” out of their thinking and teach them to solely trust in Yahweh-the One True God. We, too, are sometimes allowed to go thru some hard things to burn off or cleanse what’s not important, so that we will learn to totally depend on God.
The refiner’s fire super- heats the metal and the dross, all that stuff that we collect from too much association with ungodly influences, rises to the top where it can be skimmed away.
When we come through that refiner’s fire we are much more valuable and now, our faith is enormously boosted as we have seen Him work and lead us through. Without the heat, the impurities in the metal will cause pits and weakness in the finished product.
Remember the story of Daniel. Would He, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have been the amazing righteous men of God that they were without the horrible experience of being captured and hauled off into captivity? Scripture hints that they were made eunuchs in the Babylonian King’s palace. Those 3 friends in Daniel 3 were by this time, well established and influential men in Nebuchadnezzar’s court in Babylon. When they publicly refused to bow down and worship the King’s triumphant image, they were immediately sentenced to death in the dreaded, and handy Fiery Furnace. Everyone, even the King witnessed the extra 4th man in the midst of that blazing fire walking around with them. It was the pre-New Testament, Pre-incarnate, Jesus.
Never forget that though we may be called in this life to go through some hard, “unfair”, ugly and unjust things: Jesus is in that furnace with us and He will lead you out. Daniel and his 3 friends had an awesome prayer group to keep each other encouraged, built up and faithfully prayed for. If you don’t have that sort of network you need to find one. Let me know, I’ll be happy to pray with/for you.
Jesus promised us that it was a narrow, tough path we were taking when we “denied ourselves and took up the cross and followed Him” (Matt 7:13 and Matt 16:24) His promise was that he would never leave us or forsake us and that he would go so that the Comforter could come and He would lead us into all Truth.
None of us know when we are going to be tossed into a “Lion’s Den” experience. Maybe you are there right now.! Daniel wound up there as a result of his obedience and faithfulness to His God and to the first commandment. His testimony of miraculous, supernatural rescue gave everyone in the Empire, from the King on down, a firsthand glimpse of the amazing God Daniel served. (Daniel 6)
We never know who is watching, evaluating us as we go through the fire of trial. The friends, our children or family and co-workers are watching to see if you have just been a big talker all these years about your faith. They wonder if you are just another fair-weather Christian, who will fold up like a cheap circus tent at the first big gust of trouble. Or will Jesus be your Rock? When the fire starts in your furnace will you be standing with Jesus just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did and give God the Glory? They stepped out of that furnace, right over the dead bodies of the guards who died from the heat of throwing them in there…and they didn’t even smell like smoke.
We know that trouble is coming. The Storm is rising. Are you ready?( Matt24) Jesus Christ is the only way to Eternal Life and Christ is the only bulwark against the coming trouble. (Psalm 27)Please remember to pray for the believers in Iraq and other places where their lives are in an ever heating furnace every day!
What are you going through? What have you learned in the furnace? What do you see coming?