I was thinking about forest fires. even though we're all about preventing them, because of the danger and destruction they cause, they are a natural part of the life of a forest. old overgrowth is cleaned out and new small growth flourishes -- the forest is renewed and begins again.
I know the scriptures are full of references of terrible fire, but typically what comes to my mind is fire like those forest fires... the refiners fire.
For example, I know that Malachi 3:2 is in reference to the second coming, "But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap" but I think it means the same for anyone who allows Christ to come into their life. He becomes the fire to burn out all the old habits and sins and make us able to support new growth -- and even if we let ourselves become full of dead material all over again, He can and will cleanse us every time. It isn't an easy process... to be refined by fire... but this purposeful...
Zechariah 13:9 "And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God." We need the difficulty of being tried and refined because not only does it burn out all of the impurities, it drives us to God. It forces us to pray and to rely on Him and to become His. It is the "furnace of affliction" where we are "chosen" (Isa. 48:10) because it is there that we begin to become what we are truly meant to be; cleansed of imperfection and truly His.
Our lives have cycles like forests. We go through periods of refining fire... Difficult in the heat and pain of the moment -- but all in preparation for a new beginning.