“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” (Isa. 48:10)
If there is one word that describes the child of God, it’s the word, “chosen,” for all the controversy it has caused down through Church history. Its prevalence in the Word of God is undeniable; but its priority in salvation, is what is most hotly contested. Verses such as Ephesians 1:4, and especially 2 Thessalonians 2:13 (“…God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth”), indicate a predetermination on the part of God that, for some, completely negates free will, and, therefore, all personal responsibility. For my part, I acknowledge the former, accept the latter, and recognize the Higher. I believe I was chosen to salvation by God, but “belief of the truth” was also a necessary component. And I also believe that the complete comprehension of these two elements falls under the category of what David calls things “too high” and “too wonderful for me”; and I, like him, readily admit I “cannot attain unto it” (Psl.131:1 & 139:6).
Not only does the reality of having been chosen by God come into play in the matter salvation, it also is the starting point of true service for God. Verses such as Acts 9:15 and 2 Chronicles 29:11 attest to this. But when it comes to trials and testing, it’s not always as easy to recognize the preferential treatment of God. On the contrary, it’s easier to sense malevolence and therefore display bitterness when fiery trials befall us. But this verse in Isaiah tells us there is no positive and negative when it comes to God’s dealings with His children. It’s all good. The same infinite love that chose me to spend eternity in Heaven with God, and that positioned me for service for Him in the meantime, is the same loving wisdom that hand-picks me for assignment in “the furnace of affliction.” Just as chastening is a certificate of paternity (Heb.12:8), trials are the mark of favorability. It is God’s way of saying you and I are suitable for refining.
No child of God should seek trials, but neither should we bristle and complain in them. They are evidences of the hand of God in our lives, just as surely as the mountain top experiences. And we can be sure, God has reserved them for His “choice” saints.