See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
According to the words of Isaiah, God would have given the Israelites peace and protection if only they had obeyed God: I am the Lord your God who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river. (Isaiah 48:17-18) God’s chosen people turned from the Lord, and in His love and mercy for them, He allowed them to suffer the consequences. Yet God proclaims through Isaiah that He will carry them, sustain them, and ultimately rescue them. (Isaiah 46:4)
Obedience is the key to peace and prosperity. The Israelites continued to disobey God and turn to other gods, and the Lord allowed His testing in the furnace of affliction to draw them back. They ended up in captivity for
70 years suffering the consequences of their disobedience. But God, the Redeemer and the Restorer, directed them back so that their peace would be restored and the river of God’s love could be restored. God never stopped loving them; He withdrew His hand of protection to allow consequences because He loved them. He led them back as a shepherd gently leads his sheep.
God allows us to be tested in the furnace of affliction as well. Again, because of His deep love and care for us He uses our trials and difficulties of life to draw us back. It is our disobedience that leaves us as prey for the enemy to sneak in. Think about Eve in the Garden of Eden. She had the perfect life – a loving husband and a God who walked with her, protected her, and talked with her. Yet when Satan tempted her with his lie, she sinned by disobeying God. The flow of God’s peace ended as she and her husband were cast out of the garden. Yet God had already planned a way to bring them back – to restore their peace and communion with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.
The Lord will never forsake us even though we often forsake Him. As we walk through the furnace of affliction, whether caused by our disobedience to Him or simply trials of life, He will draw us to Himself. He promises to pour out water on our thirsty land because we belong to Him. (Isaiah 44:3-4)
“Where can I go to flee from Your Presence? If I go to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise up on the wings of dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me.” (Psalm 139:8-9) Thank you, Lord, that You are always there by my side.
In Jesus’ name, Amen