“Fire is, of course, a well-known image for torment and pain.  The Bible calls trials and troubles “walking through fire” (Isa 43:2) or a “fiery ordeal” (1 Pet 4:12).  But it also likens suffering to a fiery furnace (1 Pet 1:6-7).  The biblical understanding of a furnace is more what we would call a “forge.”  Anything with that degree of heat is, of course, a very dangerous and powerful thing.  However, if used properly, it does not destroy.  Things put into the furnace properly can be shaped, refined, purified, and even beautified.  This is a remarkable view of suffering, that if faced and endured with faith, it can in the end only make us better, stronger, and more filled with greatness and joy.  Suffering, then, actually can use evil against itself.  It can thwart the destructive purposes of evil and bring light and life out of darkness and death.”

(Timothy Keller, “Introduction,” Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, p8, 2013)

The Fiery Furnace of Suffering

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