“The Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them” (Exodus 3:7-8).
The Israelites were put into this situation because God wanted them to see how much they needed His help. It was His hope that they would remember how He had delivered them before from the plagues of Egypt, and from the furnace of affliction when they were forced to make bricks without straw and were not given enough rest.
“…I have refined thee…I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10).
The one objective God had in mind for permitting these afflictions was to purify His people. ‘Refined’ means to melt or subject to fire in order to remove the dross, or to purify in any manner. Here it means that God used these afflictions for the same purpose fire is used for concerning metal—so that every impurity in their moral and religious character could be removed. And today, when He puts His people into a “furnace of affliction”, He does it for the same reasons.
He is there with you
God led Moses to a burning bush in the desert, then told him that it represented Israel, His children in the desert, who were burning with the fire of affliction. He explained to Moses that He was in the bush, and when it burns, He burns too. He meant that when His people are in the furnace of affliction, He is in there with them—like the fourth man in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He is afflicted in all of our afflictions. “Surely [Jesus] hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities…” (Isaiah 53:4-5 emphasis mine).
Do you find yourself right now in a furnace of affliction? You can be sure that God will be in there with you. The things He allows to happen are all for a reason. When your trials are difficult, that is when God gives you special grace to see you through.
What is the only way you can get true victory? We know God cannot wink at sin, but He remains patient with anyone who is willing to go to the Cross to be crucified with Christ. The breakthrough you need can only be found at the Cross, and as you get nearer and nearer to it, you will experience His amazing patience.
When you get close to being fully identified with Christ’s death on the Cross, you will begin to see more and more the faults and shortcomings in your own life. That is when you cry out for a breakthrough—even while your furnace of affliction seems to get hotter and hotter! During these times of battle, you will often fall short of the Lord. Nevertheless, you can feel His presence and His Spirit wooing you. He will quietly reassure you that His love is unending, in spite of your failures and lack, and that you will make it all the way through this difficulty—in Him. Yes, you may be attacked by the enemy of your soul, but he will not be able to make any headway in trying to halt what God has ordained to happen to you.
Your furnace of affliction may have been designed to bring you into a life-changing revelation. Genuine Christlikeness is produced in people who are truly spiritual as they endure this furnace. And many have found that this is where they get to know the Lord best. If you are not going through the furnace at this time, then pray that God will give you the compassion of His heart for His people who are now suffering. Who knows—you may be next on the list!
Maybe you are in a furnace of affliction even now as you read this. Is your problem situation spiritual? Maybe it is a physical problem. Or it could be financial, or perhaps a battle for your mind. Perhaps your marriage is under attack, or maybe your job or business. Are you in a predicament that looks so hopeless that you really need a miracle to set you free?
What can you do in such a crisis situation? You need Jesus Christ to come into your problem, to walk with you and help you. Is your situation impossible? He can do the impossible! Jesus is able to help you and rescue you out of any furnace of affliction. In fact, He is right there in the furnace with you right now!
“Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation” (Psalm 27:9).