The furnace of affliction!

(William Nicholson and Milburn Cockrell, "The Furnace of Affliction!")

"Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction!" Isaiah 48:10The furnace of affliction!

The furnace of affliction is divinely appointed.
Afflictions are not the result of chance or blind fate.
Afflictions do not arise out of the dust (Job 5:6).
Afflictions are not to be traced to secondary causes.
Afflictions are not merely the work of our enemies.
Afflictions come from the moral government of God.HTML clipboard

Without His permissive hand, they would never take place.
Without His restraining hand, they would be overwhelming.
Without His supporting hand, they would be intolerable.
Without His sanctifying hand, they would never be blessed.

Afflictions come by the wise and gracious arrangement of God's divine providence. "So that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this!" (1 Thessalonians 3:3). "Heed the rod, and the One who appointed it!" (Micah 6:9).

As a furnace is prepared for refining gold (Proverbs 17:3) — so afflictions are appointed for the saints, who are compared to fine gold (Lamentations 4:2). Let us see here the high value that God places upon His people. Being . . .
   chosen by the Father,
   redeemed by the Son, and
   regenerated by the Holy Spirit
 — they are His precious gold!HTML clipboard

As His gold, they get tarnished by the world and sin, and they must be subjected to the refining process. HTML clipboardThe beauty of His grace must be seen in them. Hence Jehovah seeks their spiritual improvement: "I will turn My hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities!" Isaiah 1:25HTML clipboard

The design of God in choosing us to suffer in the furnace of affliction, is for our everlasting good, and for His glory. Regenerating grace implants in us the seeds of immortality, which require cultivation in order to bring about maturity. The furnace is designed to develop these principles, and to fit us for higher enjoyment. Afflictions . . .
  scour off our rust,
  preserve us from sin,
  assimilate us to Christ, who was a man of sorrows,
  make us very humble, and break our haughty mind,
  show us the frailty of human life, and the vanity of the world!

The people of God have the same need of affliction . . .
  that our bodies have of medicine,
  that fruit trees have of pruning,
  that gold and silver have of the furnace,
  that iron has of the file, and
  that the child has of the rod of correction!

God's chastisements are blessings in disguise — they are veiled mercies!