I have been reflecting lately on times in my life when I was overwhelmed or afraid. I have remembered times of fiery trials; painful or hard times, when by God’s grace I knew in the core of my being that here and now I can call upon God. Indeed, I knew that I must call upon God. You have been there too, haven’t you?
This has been the case for me lately, as I have again faced physical challenges. For several months now I have experienced headaches, which at times have been severe. I have also experienced troubling phantosmia, phantom smells that are like the strong stench of burning garbage. This has been hard for me to endure, and hard for me to tell others about it.
But the Holy Spirit has lately stirred me to lay aside my reticence to tell anyone about this latest struggle in my life, so I might share some of what I am learning through it. I do not do this for attention or sympathy, but so that you too might know in your soul today, as I have come to know in mine, that God always hears His children when we cry out to Him in trouble. Indeed, God wants us to know that we need not fear, for He is always with us, even in the fire.
There are countless life lessons for us in the inspired stories of the Bible, if only we will prayerfully read, and choose to listen and believe. A favorite for me since childhood is the amazing story told in Daniel 3. In my childhood imagination I could see it, and in childlike faith I believed it, and still do.
Nebuchadnezzar, the powerful king of Babylon was furious toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and threatened them with immediate death in a fiery furnace unless they bowed before the graven image he had made. Even facing death, they refused to deny or disobey their God. Leaning hard on the One in whom they trusted, they boldly said to the king, Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up… (Daniel 3:17-18).
In furious rage, king Nebuchadnezzar immediately ordered that they all be bound and thrown into the fiery furnace. And so, they were. Then came the amazing miracle of grace that God did for His children on that day, and that He still does for His children, and has often done for me.
King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not throw three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king”. He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!” (Daniel 3:24-25)
The story then tells of Nebuchadnezzar shouting out to the men in the fire, “Come out, and come here!” And when they did, the Bible says the king and his officials observed that, “The fire had not had any power over those men. The hair of their heads we not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them” (Daniel 3:27).
It’s a very powerful story, isn’t it? This is a true account of what happens when God’s children call out to Him in faith, even when facing fiery trials. When we do, we are blessed to learn firsthand that here and now, God is with me in the fire.
Recently our Lord used a worship song on this theme to remind me of His presence, in the midst of my current struggles. The song is Another in the Fire by Chris Davenport and Joel Houston (Hillsong Music Publishing, 2018) - Another in the Fire (Lyrics Video) - Hillsong UNITED - Worship Sing-along - Bing video
One personal example of how this truth has helped me this week is when I faced the personal fire of undergoing an MRI of my head. For some this might not be a challenge at all, but it was for me, as I have long struggled with claustrophobia. Whenever I have faced this problem, I have always by God’s grace overcome it by leaning hard on Him. My only recourse is to pray, leaning on my Lord. God knows that this is a lesson I must remember over and over again.
For me, the prospect of being strapped into that loud tubelike machine for 45 minutes, with my head firmly secured and no opportunity to move; it’s terrifying. But I knew I had to face it, and I knew in faith that God would be with me; for He has promised so.
The morning of my scheduled MRI, I awoke with the aforementioned song in my heart, as the Holy Spirit reminded me again of the biblical story told in Daniel 3, and that there will surely be another in the fire with me. I testify to you that throughout the entire 45 minutes of that experience, I was peacefully reminded by God that I am right here. I am with you in this fire, and you are entirely safe with me.
Are you feeling like you are in the fire? Are you in a hard season of life, burdened with grief, uncertainty or fear? Please do what I do, and what many others have done. Cry out to the Lord in faith. He always hears, knows, and cares. Open your spiritual eyes and see that He is with you in this fire. Open your spiritual ears and hear Him saying to you, I am here. Open your heart and life to Him, leaning on Him in faith. In and through it all, even in this challenge, God is with you.
This is what I am now doing, and what I will continue to do. Even if takes a while before the answers come, or even if I never experience complete relief from my current symptoms, I will continue to trust, and I will do so until my last breath. I know with complete certainty that God is able. I also know that there truly is another with me in the fire. His name is Jesus.