“You will shine like silver and gold through my purifying fire.”
“I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure… I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’” Zechariah 13:9 NLT
In this season of celebration for the birth of our Lord and Savior, this passage in Zechariah reminds us that God’s greatest act of love was sending His Son to die for us… In essence, our Father handed us holiness!
However, our Father shows His love in another way… one that seems harsh apart from His perspective. He loves us by putting us through His refining process, which, on the surface, goes against our understanding of a loving Father towards His children.
Many are thrown off by His willingness, even His proactive efforts, to let us suffer for our good. Indeed, it makes little sense to us why He would offer a gracious salvation, but then submit us to troubles with the intention of growing us to be more like Him. Is He making us pay for our sin after all?
This is a question we each need to settle completely, because our interpretation of it impacts our view of God, and where we stand with Him. Simply put, the answer to the question of “Is God making us pay for our sin?” is no… if we believe that, we’ve missed the whole point of adversity in the context of God’s model for us. God’s refining fire is not a way designed to be viewed as a payment plan for our wrongs. We aren’t earning His love through His refining. God doesn’t love us because He refines us… He refines us because He loves us.
If He didn’t give us the attention to beautifying us with His own character, He would be a negligent parent who allows His children to continue in destructive and dangerous habits. What caring parent lets his precious offspring endanger themselves and others with immature behavior? He wouldn’t be true to His identity as our heavenly Father if He didn’t act in our best interests.
This area of spiritual growth requires unlearning old ways and perspectives, and relearning new ways of understanding our heavenly Father… including rejecting the idea that pain is bad when it is from God’s hand for our benefit. It is through this pain that we learn to return to Him, to cling to Him, and to be like Him. In essence, we learn to wear the holiness of the salvation that He gave us at such great pain to Himself.
Heavenly Father… if it were up to me, I would not choose the pain of your refining fire. But just as Your Son spoke to You in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before He was to be crucified, He asked that You take what He was dealing with away, but that if it were Your will, that it be done, since He had the faith that You knew best. Father, it is that same faith we seek now… to know that whatever You put us through, is done so because You love us and know what is best for us. Thank you for loving us into becoming like You… Amen!