A wonderful little quote from Iain Duguid’s Daniel commentary on the nature of trials and how they refine us – I found it an insightful reminder that the fire refines what should already be there:
We need to be careful at this point, however. There is nothing intrinsically purifying about fiery trials in themselves, and we should not seek them for their own sake. The refiner’s fire does not create the pure metal, it simply reveals it. If you put metallic ore into the crucible, the pure metal will sink to the bottom and you can remove the slag from the top. However, if what you put into the crucible is dross to begin with, you will get out nothing but dross. The fire simply reveals the true nature of the material being refined. So too in Daniel 12:10, when those who are wise go through trials, they are ‘purified, made spotless and refined’ by them; yet in the same circumstances, the wicked continue to be wicked. Trials thus serve to reveal the difference between the wise and the wicked. As the apostle Peter reminds us, the key purpose of our trials: so that “your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7). In a mysterious way, the trials that we face – trials that come from the fallenness and brokenness of this world – refine our faith and demonstrate its genuineness, making us more fit for the presence of God.
Iain M. Duguid, Daniel (Reformed Expository Commentary), p218-219