I was on a retreat at a monastery about a year ago and when I went to the Liturgy of the Hours one morning, this was part of the OT reading. It is now one of my favorite verses and it still blows me away every time I read it.
Egypt is referred to as the "Iron Furnace". The emphasis is not on the misery and back breaking toil of their time as slaves, but rather the emphasis is that it removed impurities and made them into a people that are stronger than before. After all the iron is stronger and more desirable than the raw product that goes into the furnace. Elohim has used their suffering and hardship for a higher purpose, to mold the people for Himself.
Similar to the Israelites, the Christian Church has endured much. Internal strife and external persecution have tried us many times, but whenever this happens we always emerge stronger with new martyrs and other saints. As Tertullian once famously put it. "The blood of the martyrs is the seeds of the Church."
Amidst the corruption of the Medieval Church came St Francis and St Catherine of Siena. The division of the Protestant Movement brought us St Ignatius of Loyola, St Edmund Campeon and St Francis de Sales. I could on and on, but I'll leave it to you to think of times the Church has been in crisis and saints arose to meet the challenge and to strengthen the faith of Christians.
I added a video of someone singing Faith of Our Fathers acapella:
May God bless all who read my ramblings,
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My therapist has made reference to 'refining fires' .... trials that we endure that by burning, change us. This verse made me think of that immediately.
It also calls to mind to keep the Coptic Christians in Egypt in our prayers. They are under fierce persecution at present.
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