We all know difficult times. We somehow slip into them just to get stuck. Flaming arrows surge from all directions and our body threatens to collapse. Old wounds get ripped open and forgotten pain comes back full force. We scream and wrestle but there is no way out. It’s like being trapped in a pit where we can see the light. We know peace is out there but have no way of getting it.
Hell is all around us and the flames inch their way towards us. They dance above our heads just before they take their leap. We can feel the heat on our skin and we know what’s coming. We know we can’t fight the flames. No matter how hard we hit, no matter how strong we are, there is nothing we can do. Fire has no fear and it treats us all the same. It’s hungry and it’s never satisfied.
Growing through hard times
Fire hurts but fire also makes us strong. With each stand, the heat burns off impurities that threaten our core’s integrity. Sins hidden from consciousness, entangled with our thinking and hiding beneath our ambitions. It’s lies long believed and convictions held without a cause.
The fire of life is the grace of God to reveal our darkness. The opportunity to kill the foxes (Song of Solomon 2:15) in the field only shows itself if we confront what is hidden. We will never tackle something that we don’t know about. Those things only come to light under pressure. It’s then we show who we really are.
We must fight through many flames to be able to carry the calling on our life. How we deal with our circumstances will define our future. God wants us to reach our highest potential and fulfill the purpose we were created for. But he has to be able to trust us with the gospel in the heat of battle.
This is why we have the Psalms. We read cries from the heart by the some of the mightiest men of God who ever walked this earth struggling with the same questions we ask ourselves in dark times. Where are you, God? Why is all this stuff happening to me?
I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for but got everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
Prayer of unknown Confederate soldier
His character doesn’t change
The suffering is real and even though our character is formed, we don’t walk away unchanged. The upheaval of our foundations is the very reason we grow stronger. As we read the Psalms, the cries of David, we need to hold on to God with all that we got. When we run to other things to deal with the pain, when sin all of a sudden seems so tempting, that’s the time we need God the most. It’s the time we sometimes feel we don’t want anything to do with him because “he let that happen”.
In these times, we have to remember that God is good. He is on our side and he loves us. Like Brennan Manning we have to pray over and over again: Abba, I belong to you. We have to ingrain it into our mind and make it the foundation of our every thought that springs from our being. Pray this short prayer over and over again. Pray it before, during and after your suffering. Pray it continuously.
It will heal the scorched areas of your heart and help you face the next wave. It will hoist the theoretical love of God into a concrete reality. In suffering our hearts are receptive to set the foundations we believe. That’s why you have to invite him continuously when your heart is soft.
We’ll have to be proactive in our fight otherwise our heart will take over and bitterness will patch the crying wounds.
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