Milk and Honey Magazine explains how God refines us in the fire to grow our faith in His love, mercy, and to prepare His plan for our lives!

Refined By Fire

Angelena Mia Gutierrez

For my name’s sake I defer my anger: for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” Isaiah 48:9-11

“Sometimes I think the biggest obstacle Christian’s face is the obstacle of the mind.” My father and I sat in his dodge ram, running errands and going over the sermon this Sunday morning. I sat silently, dwelling on this statement. What makes me different from everyone in the world? Certainly not my circumstances. Everything is a recurrence of things which have already happened, and there is nothing new under the sun. My struggles are not new to me. Bad things happen to Christians and non-Christians alike. The difference that should separate God’s people from others is their response to these “bad things,” whether they are circumstantial, emotional or mental.

Last night and this morning a depressive air was following me around from the past. I was bearing a weight of guilt and shame, something had triggered me to think of who I was in the past. I was so unforgiving, violent, controlling, manipulative, selfish, gluttonous with my time, money, food, etc. Specific, terrible encounters I had in the past with people who I claimed to love kept popping up in my head. It brought me to tears, I felt so guilty. How can I be a Christian? How can I receive God’s love? What makes me different from the people I had treated so poorly? I recieved forgiveness from them and God long ago, but sometimes the guilt wakes me up.

A Kenyan missionary, Paul Kumunge, preached a sermon today at my home church about having value in God’s eyes. He brought a twenty dollar bill up to the podium. He crumpled it, folded it, went through different scenarios of what the dollar bill could have been through: it could have been dropped in the toilet, it could have been used to wipe someone’s tears away, trampled on the floor, etc. but do any of those circumstances change its monetary value? No.

In the same way, we stand before the throne of God and, thanks to Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, we have infinite value. Sometimes, like the twenty dollar bill, we go through bad things. Really, really terrible things. Like divorces, breakups, loss of a child, infertility, etc. Sometimes we are the bad things. We hurt people we are called to love, we let the anger get the best of us and really abuse those we should be loving, we disappoint people, we try our hardest and fail. But does that change our value at all in God’s eyes? No.

Paul Kumunge continued to read...

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord,one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4: 1-6)

He explained that having this permanent, unconditional value before God should effect our actions. Living a life worthy of the calling is like a scale; our value as Christians and our actions should be balanced. Since we have been called infinitely valuable, our actions should reflect the value we have in Christ.

Knowing where we stand with God should make us HUMBLE, putting other before ourselves. It should make us gentle or “MEEK,” meaning we are able to control our emotions and treat people as Jesus would have us treat them with love despite what emotion we naturally feel. It should make us PATIENT, bearing with all circumstances until the very end because the Father is owner of all things, created all things and is in all things. In regards to other believers, this will help us live in unity with them. In regards in unbelievers, it will allow us to be used as vessels fro God to love these people.

Getting back to Isaiah 48, which I quoted at the beginning of this article, these verses greatly affect me and move me. I have done so many things, especially in my college years, that deserved God’s anger and yet, He defers it. He restrains his anger. Instead of cutting me off and severing our relationship,He puts me through the fire. He refines me and makes me better. I am still the bride of Christ. True love sanctifies, it doesn’t leave a person in their sin to cause feelings of unworthiness, self-hatred, and dissatisfaction.

And, let me tell you, I am overwhelmed with how difficult being put under the fire has been. Over a year’s worth of battling my own sin nature that had grown like weeds in college, my selfishness, pridefulness, and the other sins I had mentioned only flared up in my loneliness. God doesn’t wipe away these sins when we come to him, he makes us master over them, he makes us overcome them so we are more than conquerers in Jesus Christ!

He makes those sins submissive to his people and THAT is the difference between Christians and non-Christians: we partake in the battle of the mind. We feel emotions, we undergo circumstances that everyone in the world goes through and yet— we remember how God says we should respond, we remember what he has promised to us and that changes the way we respond. It makes us patient in waiting for a godly spouse, it makes us humble in unfair circumstances, it makes us loving when we really want to be angry! This is what battling sin looks like and it separates God’s people from the world.

For His sake, He has done it. For His name’s sake, He didn’t give up on me. What kind of God would God be if, when his children fail, he would simply shrug, “I picked the wrong one, she’s not who I thought she was, let’s move on to the next human.” That is not Christ’s way. He will not allow his name/his character to be profaned. He promises once he chooses us he will not give his glory to another. He will not give up on us.

I have been tried by the furnace and somehow God has made that into a beautiful, beautiful thing. Exactly a year ago i was in total darkness, I have a thundercloud of heaviness overshadowing me always. I was so broken. Looking back, that was the glittering fire. Every day was a mental battle. Feeling like the flames and the pain were too much to undergo. I think of Shadrach, Meshach and Abendigo. How they jumped into the blazing furnace, “Our God is able to deliver us but even if he does not, we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-20).

At this point in my life, I have gone through the furnace so unwillingly each time— forced and pushed into it kicking and screaming, really. But there has always been “another in the fire." God was always there with me. At this point in my life, I am ready to jump into the furnace, God. I know He is able to deliver, He has shown me time and time again.

But even if he doesn’t, I will not succumb to this world’s way of living. I won’t abandon my faith to secure a husband of my own will, I won’t take a random factory or office job He has not called me to just because I am anxiety-ridden about finances, I will not pursue a lifestyle that is void of your love and goodness for human love. He has and continues to refine my faith, making it so much stronger than the tumble weed it was before. I reject the mind’s inclination to make me feel like I am unworthy, I reject its coping mechanisms to running back into old sinful habits for love — whether thats romantic relationships with unbelievers, drinking, materialism, etc.

It is the obstacle of the mind. But I have been refined.


Mia Gutierrez went to school in Nashville, TN where she studied English Language Arts at Belmont University. She graduated in May 2018 and currently teaches Kindergarten at Hope Christian School. Among many creative things, Mia loves writing poetry, reading C.S. Lewis, and singing worship. She believes every moment is a new chance to start fresh and the key to happiness is living the abundant, resurrected life that comes with accepting Jesus.  Follow her blog!