Refined in a Furnace

“…[H]is feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace…”

Get into an extended period of bad luck and you pick up on something you were too dull to notice in much detail before: others have trodden the hard path before you.  Throughout our bleak year it’s been a regular occurrence, and usually surprising, to learn about other’s hardships in the past.  I hadn’t realized so many passed through so much.  

One person wrote me recently and commiserated by referring to his “infamous March of 2019 when I was laid off for the first time ever and we found ourselves without a church.”  The implication was that I’d understand to what he was referring.  SHH!  Don’t tell: What he called ‘infamous’ I was clueless of.  

Another instance: a couple of months ago, a parent of a childhood friend recounted to me the time during his child-rearing years when he had to take a job delivering pizzas in order to supplement his regular income.  What?!  This guy lived in my neighborhood and I didn’t have an inkling that, for years, he went straight from Job #1 as a civil engineer to Job # 2 at Dominos.  Growing up, if I considered his situation at all I’d just assumed that for him paying the bills had been a matter of course.   

So late in life I’m finding things out.  It seems that it takes some personal difficulty to get clued into the rigors that others are passing/have passed through.  Pain draws out pain.  

Hearing these stories of hardship is encouraging.  I suppose one reason for drawing comfort from the stories of others is to be reminded that, USUALLY, there’s a conclusion to particular trials.  Eventually (“how long, O Lord”) we come out the other side, with stories to tell.  Hopefully having been endowed with an easier laugh too.    

But these stories are reassuring for another, deeper reason.  When waves of trial come over you one unbidden suspicion that arises in your mind is that the Lord has stepped away… He must have!  Things have gotten too precarious/ absurd/ complex/ *%#!* to believe that the Majesty is anywhere close.  The blessing of the Lord is evidently not upon you.  

And yet, and yet.  When the saints (I want to say ‘holy ones’) recount their stories of walking through the fire, their retrospection comes with the conviction that one like a Son of Man, whose feet are like burnished bronze, accompanied them.  The Christ presented to us by the Spirit is one who has passed through many flames, by himself and with his people.  

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  1. Dan Williams says:

    Colin, thank you for this. This has been a year of, I think I can see, catching up on lessons I could have learned years ago. Deep calls to deep.

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