Suffering, Really I Have to Suffer
I Peter 3:13-22; I Peter 4:12-19
I heard a story and wish I could give you the source of the story, but cannot. I’m sure, someone will let me know and if they can I would appreciate know.
There were a group of women studying the Bible together when they came upon a verse in Zechariah which said: “I will bring the one third 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.’”
One of the women asked of the others, I wonder how silver is refined? None of them had an answer.
Sometime later one of the women happened to be come across a jewelry store that said they had a silversmith on hand that could make up Jewelry for their customers. She entered the store and asked of the Jeweler, “Would it be possible to speak to your silversmith.” The Jeweler was hesitant at first, but finally gave his consent and ushered her to the back where the silversmith hunched over his little work bench. On the bench was a little pot with a flame under it. Inside the pot she could see several pieces of material that looked somewhat like silver, at least they looked a little silver.
She asked the silversmith. “May I watch you work, for I have been fascinated for quite some time about this verse in Zechariah 13:9 and perhaps by watching you, I can could better understand the verse. The smith said yes and she quiet sat on a nearby stool watching as he worked.
As the content of the pot with the flame under it grew hotter she could see where this dark material would form over the top, the silversmith would carefully remove this substance to reveal the silver underneath. Then he removed the pot from the fire and let it sit and cool.
Later he placed the pot back upon the fire heating the silver again. Again the black substance formed at the top of the little pot and once again he carefully removed this substance then allowed the pot to cool again.
When he placed the pot upon the flame for the third time, she timidly asked, “Sir why are you heating the silver again? It looked very much like silver to me, but each time you do that it become impure and seems to get this black stuff on the top of the silver.
The silversmith said, no, no your wrong, you do not understand the process. Each time the silver is heated by the flame the impurities are forced out of the silver. Each time I heat it the silver become more and more pure. But it must repeatedly heat it and cool it and then heat it again for all the impurities to be removed.”
She thought for a moment then asked. “Sir, can you get the silver to hot? Yes, yes you can. You must carefully watch how hot it gets because if it get to hot then the silver is ruined and will be worthless. If you do not heat it enough the impurities will not come out. If you only heat it once, you are not finished because there are still more impurities to be removed. It is a process that must be repeated and repeated until there is no more impurities found.”
“How then do you know, when the impurities are gone,” asked the woman?
“When the silver reflects back your image,” replied the silversmith.
So it is with our heavenly Father. He allows trials and suffering to come upon us to strengthen our character as he skims off the impurities. He repeats this over and over until we reflect His character.
For the Christian, these experiences are never pleasant. It is often more pleasant to have a picnic in the rain and the go through the difficulties that life of a true follow of Christ presents.
Paul likens it to running a race, and earlier I used the metaphor of moving the football across the goal line while the other team is trying to prevent you from achieving that goal of everlasting life with Christ. But what is important is that these sufferings are brought about by living in a sinful world and better fit us to reflect God character and thus fit us for heaven. The heavenly workmen are preparing us, shaping us, molding us after Christ’s likeness that we will enjoy our time in heaven all the more for like Christ we to have to suffered and die to self.