Written by Brandy Wallis 

Sometimes change is a welcomed sight. New adventures. New opportunities. New possibilities. But what about those seasons of personal reflection and unwanted change? Have you ever found yourself in a season of uncomfortable transformation? You know, those moments that feel like you are being tested and squeezed of every ounce of faith you have? For many of us, change can be difficult in and of itself. But you add in a complex that change is coming through a refining process from God and it magnifies the difficulty greatly. So, many times throughout my life, I’ve prayed for these seasons and hardships to pass as quickly as they seemed to have arrived. I have even shaken my fist at God while asking (probably more like yelling), “Why is this happening to me?” Surely, I am not the only one that has found themselves sitting in the fetal position, hidden in the corner of a closet, bawling their eyes out, while eating an entire pack of Oreos, convincing myself that life is over, right? Ok, maybe that was a little dramatic, but you get the idea! Now, I’m not talking about moments where conviction changes our thoughts or actions but rather a painful pruning that results in a completely new walk with Christ. This sounds like something as believers, we should be excited about, right? Yes, until we realize how painful it will be and how much it will cost us! Then we are not so sure. Over the past several years, God has really used these moments to change my perspective. Now instead of running from trials, I have begun to embrace them while always looking for the miracle that always happens at the end. So today, this blog is for anyone who finds themselves running from the heat and avoiding the uncomfortable moments with Jesus!

As believers, we should count it as an honor to be refined by God. After all, He is our loving Father and only wants goodness for our lives. Zechariah 13:9 says, “I will bring them through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ’This is My people’; and each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” Have you ever said to your children or heard your parents say, “this hurts me more than it does you”? As a child, I was always perplexed by that statement (and if you know anything about me as a child, you know I had way too many “this hurts me more than you” moments) because I never could understand how that was possible. It wasn’t until I was a parent that I truly understood what they meant. It’s never fun discipling your children but we do it because we love them and we want the best for them. Our relationship with God is no different!

So, what does it mean to be refined by God? To fully understand this in the spiritual realm, we must first understand it in the physical realm. What is a refining process and what gets refined? Webster’s dictionary defines refining as: the process of purification of a substance or a form. The term is generally used of a natural resource that is almost in an unusable form that becomes useful in its pure form. Did you know that metals, petroleum, flour, salt, and even air and water need to be refined? Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to use these resources as they are. So how are these things refined? There are many different ways, depending on the resource, but let’s take metals for example. Once metals are dumped into a large cauldron, they are melted down with a very hot and consistently steady fire. Over time, the fire burns off the impurities that are in the metals. Those impurities are simply scooped out of the cauldron or burned away. Some of these impurities often include tin, iron, lead, and even bronze. 

For some of us, as we were reading that, our spirits began to stir! You got it. Just like I got it one random day in the middle of what felt like my life falling apart. Refining doesn’t happen without extreme heat and pressure. And not only does it require extreme heat, it requires an extended period of time for the heat to burn away the things in our hearts and lives that don’t honor God, the things that God can’t use; and as long as we continue dragging that baggage around with us, God is limited on how He can use us. This is why many times when we beg God to get us out of a fiery trial, He simply won’t. He knows that for real change to occur, the heat and pressure have to continue until we willfully submit and repent. Things that are hidden deep down inside us; things that we thought were buried and dead; things that we haven’t had to deal with in what seems like a lifetime...all must be burned away. But just as with refining of metals, this is so vital to our lives. He loves us so much that He would rather see us uncomfortable than unusable! Luke 12:48 says, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” Without seasons of refining, we remain stuck where we are in our relationship and walk with Christ. We can’t go farther or deeper with Him because we have unusable traits. Instead of boasting about things in our lives that God can’t use, wouldn’t you rather have usable giftings instead? Looking at these seasons as tests instead of trials helps us to put into perspective what is actually happening in our lives. No matter how difficult these seasons have been, and will be in the future, take confidence in the fact that God will bring you through the fire. He never leaves us the same or returns us to our former places. Tests and trials always result in a building up of our faith and an added responsibility in our callings. 

Refining is painful. Refining is lonely. Refining is redefining who we are. And just remind yourself when you get frustrated by what Peter told us in 1 Peter 4:12-13, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad--for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” Refining may be uncomfortable, but is so worth it to see God’s plan in our lives unfold!

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