“See, I will send My messenger, who will prepare the way before Me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple; the messenger of the covenant whom you desire will come,” says the Lord Almighty. But who can endure the day of His coming? Who can stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Malachi 3:1-3
I have a Christmas story for you: It begins in the intensive care waiting room of a Minneapolis hospital. Outside, people were cold; inside, people were captured in the crucible of suffering. Tragedy had brought them there—a burned child, a heart attack, a stroke. People rummaged through old magazines, sent out news bulletins on their cell phones, said silent prayers.
Then one woman spoke up: “Why don’t we sing? It’s January, but I’m not tired of singing Christmas carols!” She began, “From heaven above to earth I come, To bear good news to every home; Glad tidings of great joy I bring, Whereof I now will say and sing: To you this night is born a child of Mary, chosen virgin mild; This little child, of lowly birth, Shall be the joy of all the earth.” Soon the room was filled with joy.
Today it is fashionable for ministers to preach that if you know Jesus you will have a perfect, problem-free life. If having Jesus as your Savior guaranteed that you would be freed from the crucible of life’s sufferings, everyone would soon be a Christian. But Jesus was not born to make life easy. He came to change you … to save you … to refine you.
Each of us—sooner or later, longer or shorter—end up in life’s crucible. Possibly, right now you or someone you love is suffering. Do you find yourself not knowing which way to go, what to do, in whom to believe, or how to change? You are not alone. Being a sinful human being means you will be thrown into the cauldron. It is part of the human condition. Especially during such moments, the Lord wants to remove the slag from your life and transform you with the message of salvation that comes through faith in His Son.
Is darkness all around you? Jesus wishes to bring light. The angels said it: “Good news. Great joy. Unto you is born a Savior, Christ the Lord.” With Jesus as Savior you will emerge from the crucible transformed.
Excerpt from The Lutheran Hour sermon preached on December 7, 2003
The Prayer:Dear Lord, place joy deep down in my heart. I am always striving to hear the sounds of Your approval, permission, and word for everlasting life. You are my inner voice that soothes my soul. I will sing unto the Lord a new song. In Jesus Name, Amen.