"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you . . . But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye." (1 Peter 4:12-14)
In addition to the normal distresses of life come outright persecution--direct opposition to the Christian and his faith by enemies of the cross. Millions of Christians down through the ages have even suffered martyrdom for their testimony, and many are suffering today around the world.
Christ promised that we would be hated for our stand (John 15:18-21), but He also prayed for us, not that we would be spared the persecution, but that we would be victorious in it and sanctified through it. "The world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. . . . sanctify them through thy truth" (John 17:14-17). This is the message of the fourth verse of "How Firm a Foundation."
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply,
The flames shall not hurt thee, I only design,
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
In His wisdom, He may choose to allow persecution to block life's pathway, but we will not face such opposition alone. His grace will supply our every need.
Heating gold above its melting point allows the denser gold to be separated from the frothy impurities (or dross), thus purifying the gold. Just so does God allow "fiery trials" in our lives, pushing us beyond the melting point, to "purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14). JDM