After rebuking the children of Israel for hypocrisy and negligence, the Lord goes on to explain why He hasn’t disowned them. “Behold, I have refined thee,” He says, “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” (1 Nephi 20:10). (See also Isaiah 48:10.)
Our trials can feel like a furnace. When we are experiencing adversity, we might think we are being destroyed, not refined. But multiple church leaders have used this metaphor to teach important principles about enduring suffering:
- Elder D. Todd Christofferson: “It is challenging but vital to remain firm and steadfast when we find ourselves being refined ‘in the furnace of affliction,’ something that comes soon or late to all of us in mortality. Without God, these dark experiences tend to despondency, despair, and even bitterness. With God, comfort replaces pain, peace replaces turmoil, and hope replaces sorrow” (“Firm and Steadfast in the Faith of Christ,” General Conference, October 2018).
- Elder Lynn G. Robbins: “[Our failures] help us develop and hone scores of Christlike attributes that cannot be refined except through opposition and “in the furnace of affliction” (“Until Seventy Times Seven,” General Conference, April 2018).
- Elder Quentin L. Cook: “The refiner’s fire is real, and qualities of character and righteousness that are forged in the furnace of affliction perfect and purify us and prepare us to meet God” (“The Songs They Could Not Sing,” General Conference, October 2011).
- Elder Paul V. Johnson: “The furnace of affliction helps purify even the very best of Saints by burning away the dross in their lives and leaving behind pure gold. Even very rich ore needs refining to remove impurities. Being good is not enough. We want to become like the Savior, who learned as He suffered “pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind” (“More Than Conquerors Through Him That Loved Us,” General Conference, April 2011).
- President Dallin H. Oaks: “Most of us experience some measure of what the scriptures call ‘the furnace of affliction…’ Through the justice and mercy of a loving Father in Heaven, the refinement and sanctification possible through such experiences can help us achieve what God desires us to become” (“The Challenge to Become,” General Conference, October 2000).
Today, I will be grateful for the refining power of the trials I experience. I will remember that, if I approach adversity with faith in God and live according to what I know is right, those experiences will purify me and prepare me to return to God’s presence.