So then we can be assured we will face trials, but we can also be confident in our knowledge that God will use those trials for good, and as we lean upon Him, He will bring us through every time. Paul knew this, and even went so far as to say he gloried in his tribulations:
… but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5 NKJV
Let’s take a closer look at this passage. Paul says we glory in our tribulation, that is, we rejoice in those things which press, afflict and try us. We know and trust that these things make us consistent and steadfast, causing us to develop character, tried, approved and of proven worth. Last but not least, that character allows us to live and walk in joyful and confident expectation regardless of our circumstances. Paul then goes on to assure us that this hope will never disappoint, that is cause us shame, because the Agape, of God is poured out and gushes forth in the center of our being, so that we overflow with His love because of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.
Peter also spoke of this, writing in 1 Peter 1:6-7:
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…”NKJV
He compares our trials to the refining of Gold, nor is this an original comparison. We find such language time and again in the Old Testament with which Peter would have been intimately acquainted.
For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. Psalm 66:10
But what did the psalmist mean by this? Well silver and gold were and are refined in fire, not once but several times.
The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Psalm 12:6
We could go on and on, Proverbs compares the trying of our hearts to the refining of silver and gold, Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, Zechariah and Malachi all speak of God refining His chosen people in the fires of affliction:
“But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.” Malachi 3:2-3
Here we see most clearly that it is the Lord who is sitting as the refiner in the midst of our trials to refine and purify us so that we might walk in righteousness. The refiner judges the purity of the gold and silver by his reflection in the metal. When he sees a faithful reflection of himself in the metal he knows it is pure. Like that natural refiner, He will know we have been fully purified when he sees his image reflected in us.
After all that is our natural state, to be a reflection of our Lord. Where did I get that from? I’m glad you asked. Let’s start at the beginning, at Genesis 1: 26-27:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
The word translated image here is tselem (Strong’s Hebrew 6754) and likeness in verse 26 is dâmuwth. The meanings are similar, with both conveying the idea of an image or copy, a faithful replica reflecting the essential nature. So then we can construe from this passage that were made to be a faithful reflection or shadow of the Triune God, reflecting the beauty of His love and compassion, His knowledge, His righteousness, His glory and authority. He created us male and female, and together we faithfully reflected God in the garden. Perhaps the best I have heard this concept expressed in that we were intended to mirror God so perfectly that others would have to look twice to see which image was the real God. When Adam and Eve sinned, that pure reflection was destroyed, but it was and always will be God’s plan and desire to restore us to that place where we are again that faithful image of Him. By the way tselem is the same word used to describe Seth in chapter 5. More on that later.