Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. –Isaiah 48:10
It was a terrific dog. For three whole weeks I had spent my time in 8th grade Art class crafting this marvelous ceramic dog. Now only one step stood between Fido and a sweet blue ribbon. That final step…cue the drums and dark music…was the furnace.
Fido didn’t make it. He kind of made it. But not really. He lost a leg, a tail, and his ears folded over. Truth be told he went into the furnace as a beautiful dog and came out the other end as a three-legged pig.
I had only one option. Fido’s dog days had to be over. He’d now have to become Wilbur the pig. So I put on him a curly tail, a new leg, and tweaked his face a little. One quick trip into the kiln and out came Wilbur the pig that used to be a dog.
The moral of the story: The furnace of affliction changes us.
As believers the Lord puts us into the furnace of affliction for our good and His glory. It is in the furnace of suffering that he chisels away our impurities. It is here that we become more moldable and easier to be used for His glory. We often go into the furnace as an arrogant dog, sure to win first prize. We come through the other end a maimed pig--but a maimed pig that is more fit to be used for God’s glory and more receptive to enjoying God.
Yet I find in my heart a terrible tendency on the other side of the kiln. After I’ve been through the season of affliction I expect things to soon return to normalcy. “Normalcy” meaning life before the kiln. I long for things to go back to how they were before the furnace.
But it can’t. Life can’t go back to how it was because I am no longer who I was when entering the furnace. And I’m not meant to be. Nor should I want to be. The furnace is meant to strip away the old and shape us into who God wants us to be.
When I come out the other end of the furnace I’m not charged with getting my life back to how it was before the season of affliction. I am charged with learning to live and walk and breathe in the new. Trying to live like Fido doesn’t work when God decided Wilbur the pig was a better option.
Walk in the new.