The Flames Will Not Set You Ablaze

Posted on Oct 8, 2011 in Faith | 69 comments

Since getting on Facebook my prayer life has changed. My eyes and heart have been opened to the suffering of some I may not have otherwise known. God is now hearing my pleas for five precious souls in dire need of the Great Physician’s healing. Two are twin 13-month-old babies, two are grown men, and one is one week old and weighs just over one pound—yes, you read that correctly…one pound. Five different cherished lives, five different refining fires, but one Great God in whom these families trust. The needs can seem overwhelming to me yet I know my God “tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:11).

From personal experience, I believe our Gentle Shepherd has blessings in store for these five individuals/families which they will know only through the trials they currently endure. Just as silver and gold are refined and purified with fire, Scripture tells us we, too, are tested so that our faith—”of greater worth than gold…may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7). If our goal as Christians is to glorify God with our lives, we can be thankful in the fiery furnace—so often it is here our self-sufficiency no longer exists, giving way for God, the All-Sufficient One, to be revealed.

I once heard that a metalworker knows the gold he refines in a fire has been purified when he can see his own reflection in it. How beautiful to think that because of the refining fires we endure—trusting God’s goodness in the midst of our suffering—God actually sees a reflection of Himself when He looks upon our face and sees our heart and soul. How bizarre yet wonderful that through our trials and pain we can shine His glory. Because Jesus is “the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), He writes the story of our life from beginning to end, all the while refining our faith and drawing us closer to Him.

When I was going through the darkest, most difficult, most depressing time of my life, I remember people commenting how “strong” I was. I was utterly perplexed every time I heard this because I can assure you I couldn’t have felt any more emotionally or spiritually weak. At some point I realized God’s strength was shining through my weakness; He was truly carrying me “close to his heart,” as the verse states above. To be carried close to God’s heart for months on end cultivates an intimacy with God that can be created no other way. For this I have always been thankful. It is honestly the greatest blessing I can imagine this side of heaven. It is the “place of abundance” we are brought to through the refining process (Isaiah 66:12). It continues to be the reason I can praise God “in the storm.”

I don’t know what will happen in the lives of those for whom I’m praying. But what I do know—what I am absolutely convinced of—is that God says to all of them (and to all of us): “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you…Do not be afraid, for I am with you” (Isaiah 43:2-5).

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