Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart (Proverbs 17:3, New Living Translation).What about you and me will be consumed by the refining fire and burned away? What will come out of the fire and made more pure?
The technical term for the stuff that gets burned off the silver or gold or us is "dross." It means, "a waste product taken off molten metal during smelting" (Dictionary.com). The problem is, we really like our dross. God sees it as impurity but we see it as a part of who we are. When God burns it off of us, we must let it go, mourn its loss, and then move on with the new purer self into which he is refining us.
Peter says exactly why and how God uses these tests:
What is the higher purpose of this fiery trial? What dross in my life is it burning away? How can I be truly glad even in the midst of the refining fire?So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world (1 Peter 1:6-7, NLT).