What storms are you facing in your life? In what ways are you being tested? Do you sometimes feel as if God is distant from you? The Bible makes it clear that life comes with strife. It is foolish to assume we can journey through life without trials and tribulations. The question is, where should we turn to quench the flames when the temperature rises in the fiery furnace of life? I invite you to read more.
We all face trials. Some people face debilitating health issues and physical pain. For some, the loss of a family member leaves them with inconsolable grief. Many live the entirety of life overwhelmed by financial struggles. Others face the tribulations of marital strife. Some people are plagued with the never-ending struggle to overcome addictive behaviors. Many Christians are confronted with the trials of life that come from being same sex attracted. Other people do their best to cope with mental illness and depression. Those who have committed crimes, and find themselves incarcerated, try their best to cope with the realities of living without freedom in a small steel cell. Some people have no home. Some go without adequate food. Still others are just profoundly lonely. There appears to be no end to the list of the maladies of life.
This past weekend I had the blessing of putting on a retreat at Good Shepherd Parish in McCormick, SC. As it seems with all of my Blessed, Broken and Scared retreats, many of the people attending the retreat shared their struggles with me. My heart hurts for some of the issues people are forced to deal with. As a result, today I want to offer some uplifting and reassuring thoughts from the Bible.
As we walk through the fires of life, God always walks with us. God is there with us in our most troubling moments. Job’s friends tried to convince him that he was experiencing all of his turmoil because God was punishing him. Job knew that was not true. None of us fully knows or understands why God allows bad things to happen but allowing them to happen and causing them to happen are two entirely different things. When bad things happen, God hears our cries and knows our pain and grief. He may not bring about an end to the trial, but He will never leave our side as we go through it. He is always with us in the fiery furnace of life.
Isaiah 49:15-16 gives us this assurance, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have engraved you; your walls are ever before me.”
- Psalms 23:4-5 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me. You set a table before me in front of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
- Romans 8:18 “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.”
- James 1:2-4 “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
- John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
There is one final Bible story that I will use to wrap up today’s message. It reminds us all that God is with us when all looks lost. The story about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace is found in the Book of Daniel Chapter 3. When these three men refused to worship the golden statue, King Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into the fire, however, the fire did not harm them. The king questioned his men, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” The King went on to say, “I see four men unbound and unhurt, walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God.” If three men went in and three came out, we must ask the question, “Where is the fourth man?”
This story inspired the song, Still in the Fire, written by Tim Hill. The songs refrain contains these lyrics: Click here to find the song on Apple music.
He’s still in the fire and he’s walking in the flame
And he’ll be there to help you when you call upon his name
And he can still deliver by His almighty power
While here below it’s good to know He’s still in the fire
The knowledge that God never abandons us, should give a sense of peace to Christians that non-Christians just don’t have. All people face the fires of life. Those who hold fast to their faith in Jesus Christ have the assurance that God can make even the hardest situations turn out okay. We must never lose our hope and trust in the Lord.
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