Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Refiner's Fire

I've had the privilege of leading the Sabbath school lesson discussion group twice so far this quarter--I say privilege because whenever I teach, I learn so much. (If there's a topic you'd like to study in further detail, I'd strongly recommend you teach it, or at least work up a study as if you were going to teach it.) This quarter's topic is "The Refiner's Fire." Surely, the question of "if God is so good, why do humans have to suffer so much?" is the classic first objection to Christianity. The studies have been presenting this question in the context of the great controversy between Good and Evil, God and Satan--that God is like a Refiner, who subjects his work to extreme heat and fire in order to purge it from impurities. A beautiful illustration, and certainly one that clearly shows not only how bad sin is and how much is necessary to make us holy and fit for Heaven, but also the great lengths to which God will go to make His people holy and fit for Heaven.

The good news for us is "God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it]." (1 Cor. 10:13) What a privilege to know that we have help from God Himself!

But there are still a lot of unanswered questions on our end. Certainly God's character and His ways are enough to study for the rest of our lives. We can't possibly think that we have all the answers to the questions, and as we attempt to answer some, more questions arise. This is part of the test, I think. Here's a good example, a story (which in all likelihood may have been true at some point):

A certain Brother X went to prayer meeting. During prayer and testimony time, Brother X stood up to share.

"Praise God! He has truly answered my prayer! Here is my testimony of praise. For three months now I have been searching for a good job which pays well with good benefits. I interviewed at Helen's Department Store downtown for the position of manager. The outlook looked almost impossible, as they had told me that the position had been filled for a long time now, but they said they'd see what they could do. I prayed and prayed, but I hadn't heard from them for weeks, until this past Monday, when they called and said that I got the job! Praise God!"

When all the Amens and Hallelujas died down, Brother Y stood up to speak.

"I have a prayer request for myself and my family. As you know, our little Tommy was diagnosed with diabetes last month--I thank all of you for your constant prayers and support during this difficult time. Fortunately, I have had a good job with excellent medical benefits which were able to cover all of our entire family's medical costs, including Tommy's supplies and medication. I was the manager of Helen's Department Store downtown for 15 years, but you see, on Monday I lost my job...."

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