Tag Archives: refiner’s fire

The Joy of the Lord

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, December 28, 2015

refiner's fire

The Joy of the Lord

One of the so-called mortal sins is acedia—sadness of heart or resignation. Close cousin to depression. I know depression. I have friends and acquaintances who are quite familiar with almost constant sadness of heart, depression, even despair at times.

How is it that we here in the United States can live in such a materially rich time, yet feel so empty? So desperately sad? Boredom doesn’t even touch it. The deep feeling goes much further to the soul’s interior than just that.

Yes, it seems like an insidious disease, almost an unseen plague. And those who are not afflicted do not, and cannot, possibly understand the deep pain. The desperate fear and anxiety. It is truly an inside job. On the interior.

Monastic literature had more than a nodding acquaintance with acedia, though. I feel deeply for those so afflicted, in the centuries past. I pray they had some relief.

Relief can come from God, to some extent. (Not to the exclusion of everything else, though! Please, listen to your doctor or therapist. Please, please.)

As I was saying, joy—deep and abiding joy—can come from God. God delights in giving joy to God’s children. One of the compilers of this book of December meditations writes, “The joy of the Lord has gone through the poverty of the manger and the distress of the cross.” [1]

No easy joy, here, however. A biblical illustration, from several places in Scripture. It is through difficulty and distress that deep emotion goes through fiery trial, as if through a refiner’s fire. We can understand that, to a greater or lesser extent. Let us praise God for God’s presence with us. We celebrate Emmanuel—God with us, indeed, through the poverty of the manger and the distress of the cross.


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[1] God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, trans. O.C. Dean, Jr., compiled and edited, Jana Riess (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2010), 72.

Like a Refiner’s Fire

refiner's fire

matterofprayer blog post for Monday, December 23, 2013

Like a Refiner’s Fire

It’s almost Christmas Eve. I want to scoot ahead to the time of the Christmas celebration, but we aren’t there yet.

Today, in my Advent reflection, I read Malachi 3:1-3. I was especially struck by the words “For he is like a refiner’s fire . . . and he will purify . . . and refine them like gold and silver.” Yes, I am still waiting, as the practice of Advent encourages me to do. I am watching and waiting for the messenger of the covenant to prepare the way before me, true. But I’m afraid of that other image, too.

I understand the image of the refiner’s fire in principle. But I do not like going through the fire. It’s the being-refined-part that I object to. It hurts! Ow! What gives, God?
I’ve been there, especially in the past number of months with my employment situation. (or difficulty with, or total lack thereof) I understand that I am supposed to reflect God. I’ve heard the analogy of a silversmith melting silver in his shop. He knew that the molten silver had all the impurities taken away when he could see his face in the silver. Gee, silver must really get hot for that to happen! I guess that‘s similar to my situation(s). I earnestly am trying to be faithful, and to follow. Even when the situation’s too hot to handle.

Help me wait for the coming of the Baby in Bethlehem. Soon! Very soon!

Let’s pray. God, I try to follow You. I know You are there by my side, and Your purposes are good and gracious. I know You want me to be faithful, too. Even when I forget You’re there, or get angry because things aren’t going my way, or just get sick and tired of waiting for You. God, forgive me. Help me to continue to wait. Be with me when things get too hot to handle. Protect me when I’m being tried by fire. God, thanks for Your constant presence through every situation, even in this almost-Christmas, still-waiting time. Amen.