I don’t recall the source of this story/illustration. It obviously is an old one, but I am reminded of it each time I read Malachi 3:2-4.
Some time ago, a few ladies met in a certain city to study the scriptures. While reading the third chapter of Malachi, they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse: "And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver (Malachi 3:3)."
One lady proposed to visit a silversmith, and report to them on what he said about the subject. She went accordingly, and without telling the object of her errand, begged the silversmith to tell her about the process of refining silver.
After he had fully described it to her, she asked, "But Sir, do you sit while the work of refining is going on?"
"Oh, yes madam," replied the silversmith; "I must sit with my eyes steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured."
The lady at once saw the beauty, and comfort too, of the expression, "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." God sees it needful to put His children into a furnace; His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for us. Our trials do not come at random, and He will not let us be tested beyond what we can endure.
Before she left, the lady asked one final question, "When do you know the process is complete?"
"Why, that is quite simple," replied the silversmith. "When I can see my own image in the silver, the refining process is finished."
[Originally posted on Facebook on April 5, 2010.]