This time a year my family taps maple trees to collect the sap. Just last weekend I already cooked down about 30 gallons of sap. You may not realize, but it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. You’ve got to cook it down, we put it over a fire and and boil off those 39 gallons. Until you get that pure gold: maple syrup.
That idea of concentrating something or refining something is an illustration that God uses in application to us. In Zechariah chapter 13. God says
I will refine them as silver is refined, and I will test them as gold is tested. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, “This is my people.” And they will say, “The Lord is my God.” (Zechariah 13:9)
God here speaking of his people, says that he is going to refine them. Put them through a fire. That doesn’t sound very pleasant. That God would refine us with fire. God uses hardships and difficulties to carry out that work in our lives. So we like that sap sitting over the fire simmering away. The water is just boiling off.
God wants to refine you. There’s maybe some imperfections, some impurities, that he needs to cook off. He does it because he loves you. Notice what our verse says, it says this is my people. God has laid claim to you and said You are mine. And he purchased you with the blood of Jesus his Son. So there can be no question that God loves you. And because he loves you he wants to refine you. So when those difficulties come you can be assured that God is still loving you.
They are unpleasant. They hurt. The fires hot. But if you can see in your mind, if you can believe in your heart that God is acting in love for you, you will be able to persevere. You will be able to push on until the trial is over. And God has made you who he wants you to be. Then at the end you may cry out like the people: the Lord is my God.
May the love of God comfort you in the midst of your struggles and assure you that he will work all things for your good until you’re finally with him in heaven. To him be the glory now and forever. Amen.