Faith Forged by Fire
It’s an element that draws us near when it is cold, but if we stay too long, or get too close, we’ll get burned. It can both, refine and consume, light the way or leave a trail of destruction and ashes in its wake. In human hands, fire is a force of nature to be harnessed but never to be toyed with. But in God’s hands, fire refines us, makes us pliable and gets us uncomfortable enough to move.
Just thinking about fire- its power and purpose, leaves me a bit unsettled. And so, my heart searches for the haven of promise so it can find the peace and courage to move closer to the flames.
Isaiah 43:1-2 (NLT) says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”
Notice that even before water and fire are introduced, the issue of fear is addressed. The Bible says, “do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you, I will be with you.” We are God’s own. He has called us to Himself and He will not leave us. He will move through the forging of our faith, and the trials of our lives with us. And, He will ensure that we will not drown or be consumed by our affliction.
Isaiah’s choice of terms in these verses highlights a second promise. He uses the word, “when” to describe the dynamic of passing through water and fire. This tells us ahead of time that in this life, the opposition of water and fire are unavoidable, and not the result of sin or mistakes on our part.
We don’t have to be caught off guard or blindsided by our trials. We can anticipate them as a part of our journey, and we can stand on the substantial promise that we are just passing through them.
We are not camping out or staying in our suffering for long. Just long enough…..
“There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 MSG
It’s your faith, not your gold that brings God’s honor, praise and glory.
Is there a trial that you are facing, or an area of your life that these promises can make a difference in? Ask God for courage to keep walking in the heat of affliction, and thank Him for walking with you and ensuring that you are not consumed.
“I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.” Isaiah 48:10 NLT
He walks with us into every fire, and if you think back on the trials you’ve made it through, not once have you walked out burned to ashes.
The fire only burns away the slave ropes that have kept you bound.
In Daniel chapter 3, the fiery furnace became a haven for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they refused to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s idol. These faith-filled and obedient men were bound and cast into the flames of a furnace by an angry King, but they quickly became unbound, and were seen walking unharmed with Jesus in the fire. The Bible said they stepped out of the furnace untouched by the fire. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell like smoke!
May fire have the same affect on our faith!
The fire of suffering and resistance is where our faith is forged.
We are bound up in sin. Wrapped tight with lies, pride, self-centeredness, materialism, competition, comparison, and so much more. God ransomed us for freedom. He refuses to let us stay small, and He will allow the lashing flames of affliction to set us free, to clean us up, and make us moldable.
He is with us the whole time. He puts boundaries around the temperature and the timing of the fire. The flames of suffering may not be from Him, but He is sovereign over them, and He promises to use what is meant for our harm for our good. (Romans 8:28)
Once heated, that which is stiff becomes pliable- or it becomes harder than it was before.
We get to choose.
Do we let the heat soften us? Do we respond with faith, trust and obedience? Or, do we allow the heat to bake our hearts as hard as stone and become encased with bitterness and offense?
What are you choosing today? What’s the condition and response of your heart in the heat of suffering?
“But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.” Job 23:10 NLT
“There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” Romans 5:3-5 MSG
“O Lord, we have passed through your fire; like precious metal made pure,
you’ve proved us, perfected us, and made us holy. We’ve passed through fire and flood, yet in the end you always bring us out better than we were before, saturated with your goodness” Psalm 66:10,12 TPT
Lord, please saturate us with your goodness and make us better than we were before. ~ Amen