There are two main ways to refine gold. You either heat it with fire to over 1000 degrees C, then stir and skim off the impurities as they rise to the top. Or you dissolve the impurities with acid, which is then neutralised and washed away, leaving almost pure gold.
Pure gold sounds stunning. But it’s actually a muddy looking substance that has to be dried into a powdered residue and then heated to melting point for it to be useable.
So the end result might be glorious but the process – flames, stirring, skimming, or acid, drying, melting– that’s painful. The Bible talks about how God refines us like precious metal:
‘The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.’ (Proverbs 17.3)
But, until we’re in the middle of it, we ignore how excruciating this can be. Then, ironically, when we are going through the stress of being refined, we focus only on the difficulty and forget the hope of the end result.
‘For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.’ (Psalm 66.10-12)
It’s all about perspective and trust.
So wherever we are in the process, let’s keep our eyes on the Refiner Himself.
‘But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.’ (Job 23.10)