God's Refining Process

He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD. –Malachi 3:3 (NLT)

I overheard the Charge Nurse’s phone call to the nearby unit where they housed the inmates with chronic illnesses.

“Just wanna’ inform you deputy that these 2 inmates would start going to your unit to sleep there every night since we got the apnea monitors. They were delivered today for Mr. R and Mr. M…”

When she put the phone down, I asked, “Mr. R? Wasn’t he released just a few days ago? Back already?” 

Not that I was surprised. We knew the fact…Some of them always came back. Perhaps not being able to function in society. To some, incarceration meant having the supplies they needed for their many needs. Things that they had no way of getting from outside the prison walls.

As soon as I got done, an inmate’s footsteps were heard approaching our main door. Accompanied by the deputy, he just arrived from the county hospital for having some surgical procedure there. It was only a minor procedure. And in the doctor’s notes, there were no restrictions with his activities. But it was a different story when he came in. The footsteps were just from the deputy. He was wheeling himself with the wheelchair the deputy must have given him.

“What’s wrong? You can’t walk?” I asked.

All of a sudden, he was just so upset and with a raised tone of voice, he replied, “What are you saying? I’m lying? You see that I can’t walk and I’m still having a lot of pain.”

“Don’t raise your voice! I was only asking so I know what to do and what to tell the doctor here in the jail when they see you for a follow up!” I replied with also a higher tone of voice, that the nearby deputy stood more alert and ready to intervene if he would try anything against me.

“Did I say you are lying?”

He didn’t answer. He just grimaced. And acted like he couldn’t even get up from the wheelchair to try to take a few steps for me as I requested.

 “You know, Sir…You only had a minor procedure. They would not discharge you from the hospital if you are not able to walk on your own because they know that we don’t have a hospital here in the jail.”

More silence…As I flipped the medical notes from the hospital, I saw that he was being given a narcotic for pain which was understandable as he had a procedure done at that time. But by the time I saw him, the surgical wound was closed and well-healed.  I told the Charge Nurse, that was the reason why he got upset. He wanted the narcotic to continue being given to him that he had to fake his symptoms.  He was just like some of those I had dealt with. They wanted all the comfort they could have. When it wasn’t supposed to. Only when medically necessary. After all, it was the prison. They seemed to forget. They were not supposed to be comfortable because it was not meant for them to stay there forever if they had minor crimes. They didn’t want to suffer…Period…   

But who wants to suffer? Even our lives here in this place is full of trials. But as God’s children, we are to go through sufferings. Because during that process, we are being refined by God, the Refiner.  Just like how the  metals are processed, the impurities are removed when heated with the hottest fire. Impurities rise and are skimmed off by the silversmith. What remains is a clear, pure surface where the silversmith’s image is reflected. 

As we are purified, God’s reflection is becoming clearer in our lives. It is a hard process but what outcome! What an honor to reflect the Lord’s image to those around us despite the trials we go through!!!
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