These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure.  It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold.  So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:7

The following is excerpted from the introductory chapter titled Tests of the Fire, from the book, Hope for Tough Times, by Mary J. Nelson. I am very grateful to Mary for how she has Tom headshot 6-2012ministered to our family, personally and through her gift for writing.  I pass this along for the sake of a number of key ministry leaders I am working with at this time, and perpetually, who are in the midst of tests of the fire, and may need a little more hope for tough times.  Trusting this will minister to many.
–Tom Mouw

Yes, our God sits as a refiner and purifier of silver (Malachi 3:3).  His is like the silversmith in the refining process, and we are like the raw metal.  The silversmith heats the raw metal in the middle of the fire where the flames are the hottest, until the silver melts and the impurities rise to the surface.  Then he skims the impurities off the top, leaving pure metal.  Throughout the process of heating and melting, he never leaves the silver unattended.  If he leaves it in the fire a moment too long, the silver is destroyed.  Finally, when his reflection appears in the clear pure surface of the silver, the silversmith knows the process is complete. 

Ministering to others facing tough times, I’ve discovered we all face certain tests in the refining fire, even though our circumstances may differ.  As we struggle through these tests, the impurities slowly burn away, leaving a little bit more of the Silversmith’s reflection and a deeper understanding of the nature of God.

You will always have a choice as you face the tests of the fire.  If you yield to God, the tough times can be a season of growth (Daniel 12:10).  When you lean on His strength to endure the heat, He draws you close to His heart and reveals the secret treasures buried within each test… It can take you to a place of complete trust in His nature, whatever might happen (Job 13:15).   As silver in the refining process, you are cleansed, purified, and available to participate in the sacred work of His kingdom (2 Timothy 2:21). 

You can also let the refining fire become a furnace of destruction.  Judas and King Saul let each fiery test push them further away from God… David also faced persecution after God anointed him king, but he yielded to God and let his character be refined.  In the Psalms, he cries out from a deep level of suffering while singing praises to God for His unfailing love.  Judas and Saul flunked the tests of the fire.  Peter and David passed with flying colors. 

How will you respond to the tough times?  Will you miss God in the fire or will you invite Him in the center?  When all the legs on your stool are gone, and nothing remains but Jesus, will you discover He’s all you need?  If you seek Him in the fiery furnace of suffering, you will never regret your decision.  In the middle of the fire, where the flames burn the hottest, you meet the Almighty God face-to-face.  You drink from the well of His infinite love. 

Instead of resenting Him through the tough times, you finally realize that it is only by His grace that you live and move (Acts 17:28).  You discover that a single day in His presence is better than a thousand anywhere else (Psalm 84:10).  Like Jacob, who set up a stone pillar at Bethel to remember the place where he wrestled with God, you will never forget the place where God met you in the fire (Genesis 35:14). 

Excerpted from: Hope for Tough Times by Mary J. Nelson; Copyright © 2009; ISBN 0800787811; Published by Revell; Reprinted by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.