Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Each day we’re faced with opportunities and choices… but on some days, it seems as though chaos is the only option. These trials become like wildfires – hard to contain with a desire to consume, but that isn’t the worst part. We already have fires within us… the struggles to which most aren’t privy. It’s hard to deal with the outside when you’re also trying to manage the inside. The temperature becomes stifling as we attempt to put out flames on multiple fronts. To find relief, sometimes we give into the pain. We let life’s trials consume us because fighting against them seems a bit too hard. Yet the simple truth is this: we don’t survive walking through fire if we go at it alone. It takes God to get to the other side.
In Isaiah 43:2, God told the Israelites:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
This promise still applies to us today. With God, we are able to walk through the fire and not be burned. What the scripture does not say, however, is that we won’t feel the heat. And this is the conundrum of walking through the fire. As we experience trials and tribulations, the heat can cause us doubt. Uncertainty arises and we fear that we will be burned. Our actions become rash, as we drift further away from the spirit of God. Even in the Bible, we can find examples of this – from the Israelites at the Red Sea all the way to Peter’s denial of Christ. So what do we do when our fear of experiencing the flames begins to consume us?
The Story of Stephen the Martyr
Well first, we must align on what it means to be burned. Burning signifies injury, damage, or destruction. To scorch also means to damage or to dry out with intense heat. If we consider these definitions, then let’s test this promise against a Biblical example. I’ll use Stephen the martyr found in Acts 7. Would you consider him to be “burned” because he was killed? On the surface, maybe you would say yes. But if we delve deeper, maybe you would say no.
Stephen faithfully served God and believed in Jesus Christ, which put him in direct opposition of the high priest and council. Eventually they would decide to stone Stephen in a fit of rage. As this murder was occurring, Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirt and asked God to receive his spirit. His last words were ones of compassion directed to those who were causing him harm. Stephen said: “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” (Acts 7:60). Stephen refused to fold to the pressure. And then, he died.
Examining the ending
For most of us, the “right” ending would’ve been Stephen surviving this stoning. But for Stephen, his only concern was remaining connected to God, no matter the cost. You could destroy Stephen’s body, but you couldn’t scorch his soul. In the fire, God was with Stephen – even allowing him to see the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. Such an outcome serves as a reminder to us, that God is with us, no matter the size of the flames.
We do not have to fold. With God, withstanding the heat is still an option. We do not have to cave into temptation; we do not have to burn. Nevertheless, instant relief from the heat is tempting. Sometimes we break because we let our fear of the outcomes supersede our trust in the Savior. If this happens, what do we do next?
We Choose Healing
When we break, injury occurs, and our life choices become a reflection of that pain. Many of us are walking around with emotional trauma that has prohibited us from accessing all of the good that God has in store for us. Our unresolved issues form distractions that pull us away from spiritual renewal and towards a false perception of self. We have to heal from the brokenness if we want to move forward. We’re advised in Hebrews 12:12-13 to:
Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.
All of us are in need of healing, but some of us believe more in resistance. We become defensive when we’re given feedback, and we refuse to acknowledge the ways in which God is asking us to grow. The danger here is that we can end up with permanent damage. Yet our trials do not have to cause us this amount of destruction. The fire only has as much power as we’re willing to give it. We can decide to hold onto God’s promises as we walk through the fire or navigate this life without Him. What we do next will always be our choice.
Choosing God When You Walk Through the Fire
If we choose God, then we must embrace the concept that we’re walking through the fire – not running. God chose the word walk with intention, because when the temperatures rise, we often believe that running is the better choice. Unfortunately, in our desire to escape the pain, we find ourselves making hasty decisions and accepting undesirable solutions. Patience and time become our enemies as the devil pushes harder against our weaknesses. He wants the fire to burn us… as he attempts to destroy the very core of who God wants us to be.
So, if the heat starts to become unbearable, remember this – God is so much greater than our situations. His power is infinite and His love for us knows no bounds. If we embrace this truth, fear will lose its grip over us as we walk boldly in faith. It’s not that we don’t feel this fear anymore, it just stops being the place from which we make decisions. We trust that God will not let us burn, and if we stay connected to Him, like Stephen, God will reveal Himself to us even in the most difficult of circumstances.
In closing, as we traverse through this journey, remember that God wants the best for us. It will take some patience, and some refinement, but with the Holy Spirit guiding us, we will get there. No matter the size of the flames, God is with us, and because of that, you and I will not be scorched. #GodBless #LovesAnActionPrint This Devotional