Originally published Thursday, 27 February 2014.
Being a Christ follower is hard. And if you’re truly following Jesus (i.e. submitting your life fully to His leading, praying, asking for His continued guidance), He’s going to ask you to do things you don’t want to do. This was certainly the case when I was called to have correspondence with Anthony, the man who murdered my dad.
You see sometimes, God leads you into the fire. Sometimes He asks you to trust Him enough to follow Him into your unknown, scary places. But His intent is not harm. Oh no, His intent is to use your time in the furnace for His purposes in your life. To bring you to a better place. A place rich in beauty and blessings.
I, personally, don’t know anyone who has been strengthened through the calm, peaceful seasons in their life. Just as a tree cannot stand until it’s properly “hardened off” by the stresses its environment presents, so too we cannot properly “stand” until we’re strengthened by trials. In essence, by fire.
God has purpose––purpose beyond our comprehension––in our trials. And as a loving Father does, He leads us into the places that will most benefit us. He doesn’t save us from our trials, but He does save us in our trials as He walks, and sometimes carries, us through the fire to the other side.
God called Joshua to lead the Israelites into the promised land. Into the place where giants once lived. Joshua––who had seen the giants, himself, years before––was scared. But what was God’s response? He said, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). God didn’t save Joshua and the Israelites from going into the land, but instead, He saved them in the land.
In the book of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into a literal fiery furnace after refusing to worship false gods. Now, we might think God would rescue them prior to being thrown in, but He didn’t. He allowed them to be cast into the fire, but as onlookers peered into the furnace, they saw four men, not three––the forth of which was described by these pagans as “a son of the gods.” The three men came out of the fire, unharmed, without so much as a hair being singed. God did not rescue them from the fire, He rescued them in the fire.
The same could be said of Daniel in the lion’s den.
Esther in the presence of her people’s enemies.
Joseph, Peter, and Paul in prison.
And even Jesus on the cross.
God tells us, “ When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2). Did you see it? He said “when.” We will meet trials of all kinds in this life, Jesus told us, but he went on to say, “But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). That is the guarantee. We will be called into the fire, but God remains with us. He fights for us and brings us through to the other side, unscathed and more resilient than before.
So, no matter how hard it gets, if you know Jesus led you down a certain path in your life, don’t give up. Keep going. Keep following. Every promise land has its giants. The question is, will you trust Jesus enough to follow anyway?