When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie
My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply
The flame shall not hurt thee, I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
Luckily for me, my church also loves this song. Today I was really thinking about this song and turning the last lyric in particular over my theological tongue and it really is amazing.
When you refine precious metals, you're melting away the lead and what is referred to as dross in the Bible was the lead oxide that separated in the process. It's about removing impurities. All that's unclean in us was never meant to be there. But refining is hard work. It feels difficult and uncomfortable. And it's only by God's grace that we can be refined at all.
The Old Testament prophet Malachi told of Jesus, who would come as the refiner
He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to The Lord.
I also love what this verse says about those who are refined: they worship. Once Jesus gives us a new heart, and the dross (if you say it incorrectly, it rhymes with gross and sin is gross stinky garbage), we are free to love Him.
A few hundred years earlier, Isaiah also prophesied of what it will be like when The Lord, Messiah, comes to draw sinners to Himself.
You will say in that day: "I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me".
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
They had the same message: Jesus is coming. He will save you. You will be changed. You will be glad. You will rejoice. You will worship.
His grace is always meant to be our guide. He takes our dross and refines the gold He places in us. The bottom line is that Christ always works for our good and our greatest joy in Him. Wherever He leads, we can follow with joy because
And though even hell should endeavor to shake
[He'll] never, no never, no never forsake.