Five years ago, I fought the greatest onslaught of hell that I could have imagined at that time.
The stress of my life then was nothing compared to what I’ve faced in the past couple years of adulthood, but at seventeen, I found myself deep within a trench of inner turmoil. Some of it was a result of hurts I experienced at the time, but most of it I could not find a root for. It was as if all of a sudden I was being bombarded in my mind and spirit at every turn for no reason at all. I’d never felt such fear before -- the kind that stalks you in the quiet moments, like a malevolent killer tip-toeing through your home.
Confusion haunted my days, leaving me spiraling in a sea of questions.
For a while, I didn’t speak of it. I was afraid to let anyone know what was happening to me. But one day, I couldn’t hide anymore. My parents noticed that something was wrong and I finally poured out my misery to them over the kitchen table of a rented cabin we were vacationing in near Pigeon Forge, TN.
It was then that a bit of understanding came to me. I was finally able to make some sense of what I was going through and why. And I found hope to make it through.
My sweet dad turned my attention to 1 Peter 1:6-8:
"In this ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations, that the trial of your faith (being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tested with fire) might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen, ye love. In Him, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
1 Peter 1:6-8 KJV
That conversation and passage of Scripture didn’t magically fix everything, but it helped me understand what I was going through.
I was fighting a spiritual battle I’d never experienced before. The enemy of my soul saw me as a threat, and he had targeted me for destruction. I was walking through the fire, and I could choose to let it burn me up … or I could choose to let it refine me.
I eventually made it through that fiery trial. And I’m happy and grateful to say that I came out stronger at the other end of it.
Since then, I’ve walked through more fire, both brought on by the enemy and as a result of life itself. But with each new inferno I have to navigate my way through, I’m learning to embrace the flames. To see the heavenly purpose in them. To rejoice in them even, as Scripture says.
Fire isn’t only a destructive force. It can have positive effects as well. In the physical, fire purifies, refines, and strengthens. Spiritually it is the same way. The fire God allows us to go through not only burns away all our impurities, it refines us and strengthens us. Our faith can be transformed into a strong, unbendable, unbreakable material.
"Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction."
Isaiah 48:10 KJV
"And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God."
Zechariah 13:9 KJV
Without the heat of the oven, a mushy mound of dough could never become a delicious loaf of bread. Without the flames of the kiln, a clay pitcher would lose its shape and crumble. Without the fire of the forge, a lump of steel could not be formed into a sharp blade. Without the fire of adversity we could never be transformed into what God desires us to be: instruments strong and durable for use in His kingdom.
I know what you may be thinking -- that it's all well and good to say we should rejoice in the fiery trials of our faith, but it’s hard to actually do that. Fire hurts. It’s painful to walk through trials. How can we rejoice in pain?
I understand. I find myself having those same thoughts many times. It can be disheartening when you’re in the midst of the trial feeling the overwhelming heat and the walls of flames pressing in all around. It’s not easy to endure the pain. However, we must remember: Jesus never promised that this life, even a life lived for Him, would be easy. But He did promise us something else:
He will walk beside us in the fire.
"Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."
Daniel 3: 24-25 KJV
He stood beside Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace after they would not worship the king of Babylon. And He will stay beside us when we face the trials of this life.
"But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."
"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."
No flame can burn Him.
No fire is too hot for Him to handle.
There's no trial too difficult for Him to navigate.
No situation is too big for Him to tackle.
He will never leave us nor forsake us.
He will be with us even through the end of the world!
So take heart, my brothers and sisters! Hold fast to His promises and the truth that no matter what we face, He will always take us through the fire.