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Archive for August, 2015

I have a mental list of passages that remind me to be grateful for trials. Here are only two of them:

Now this trial the Lord therefore permitted to happen to him,
that an example might be given to posterity of his patience, as also of holy Job.
(Tobit 2:12)

“Besides all this, let us give thanks to the Lord our God for putting us to the test as he did our ancestors.
Recall how he dealt with Abraham, and how he tested Isaac, and all that happened to Jacob in Syrian Mesopotamia while he was tending the flocks of Laban, his mother’s brother.
He has not tested us with fire, as he did them, to try their hearts, nor is he taking vengeance on us. But the Lord chastises those who are close to him in order to admonish them.”
(Judith 8:23-27)

I was reminded this morning of a beautiful story about the Refiner’s Fire. It’s not long, and I’d like to share it!

And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver:
and he shall purify  
the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver,
that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

 (Malachi 3:3)

While reading Malachi chapter 3, a woman noticed a remarkable expression in the third verse: “And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”

She went to visit a silversmith and, without telling the object of her errand,
begged to know the process of refining silver, which the smith described to her.

“But, sir,” she said, “do you sit while the work of refining is going on?”

“Oh, yes, ma’am,” replied the silversmith. “I must sit with my eye
steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining is
exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured.”

The woman at once saw the beauty and comfort of the expression,
“He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” God sees it needful to put
His children into a furnace: His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying,
and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for them.
Their trials do not come at random: “the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

As the woman was leaving the shop, the silversmith called her back
and said he had forgotten to mention that the only way to know when
the purifying process is complete is  . . .

 . . .when he can see his own image reflected in the silver.

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Tobit remains one of my favorite books of the Bible, causing me to ponder many things every time I read it.

Some of the little thoughts & questions that rattled through my mind as I read it again, in no particular order …

Raphael. It seems to me he is a perfect patron saint for parents as they pray for their children. He gave guidance, healing and protection to Tobit and his family, even pursuing a demon and binding it hand & foot. When he revealed his identity, he said some very interesting things:

  • When Tobit and Sarah prayed, Raphael presented and read the record of their prayer before the Glory of the Lord
  • He did the same when Tobit used to bury the dead
  • Raphael was sent to put Tobit to the test, and at the same time God commissioned him to heal Tobit & Sarah
  • Raphael is one of the 7 angels who enter & serve before the Glory of the Lord
  • When Raphael came to Tobit, “it was not out of any favor on my part, but because it was God’s will.”

Sarah’s Parents. Can you imagine how they felt? They had given their daughter in marriage 7 times, and each time her new husband had died on their wedding night. They loved their daughter dearly. Their hearts must have ached for her, and they also must have felt great dread when Tobias asked her hand in marriage. They admired their relative Tobit and now, it seemed to them, Tobit’s son would lose his life because of their daughter. How bitter it must have been. Raguel got up in the night to dig a grave; and later when it was discovered that Tobias and Sarah were safe and sleeping, he sent servants out to fill the grave in. That made me laugh!

Tobit. While he was being tested, I’m sure he felt great despair. He had spent years risking his own life to bury the dead in secret to please God; he had endured much ridicule for his actions. But when his son Tobias introduced himself to Raguel and also to Gabael in Rages, both men exclaimed with joy what a wonderful man his father Tobit was. Did Tobit know he was admired?

Anna. Tobias & Raphael were delayed in their return to Tobit & Anna. Anna was worried when they first set out on their journey and counted the days, knowing when they ought to return. She watched the road and her fears grew deeper as the days passed with no sign of her only son. How often do we pray with great desperation and love? How often do we despair that the prayer will not be answered in the way we desire? How often do we wish we could just know what has happened and see what is in the future as we wait on the LORD? I have to rejoice with Anna that not only was her prayer answered and Tobias returned safely home, but he brought with him a beautiful wife who gave them grandchildren.

There is just so much in this story; it is rich in every way.

 

 

 

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