Steve’s Devotional – When the Fire is Hot
MARCH 23, 2020
Are you trapped in a fire and it’s only getting hotter?
“Never doubt in the dark what God has taught you in the light.” That sounds good…until you find yourself in the dark and can see no way out.
Maybe your dream shattered. Maybe you’re in pain and don’t know what to do. Maybe you look out at the world where the bad guys are winning, wondering if God is on vacation. Maybe you’re sick and nobody else knows the fear. Maybe it’s a financial or family problem. Maybe someone you loved died. But whatever it is, it’s only getting hotter and you feel like you’re getting burned.
Long before you, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego were thrown into the fiery furnace because they stood for their faith (Daniel 3:8-30). The three men in the fire constitute a real historical incident, but I think the fire in which they found themselves can also serve as a metaphor. It represents those hard places where we sometimes live. How do we trust God when the fire is hot?
Don’t be surprised.
They faced the reality of the fire without surprise (Daniel 3:16).
When the Christians in the first century went through difficult circumstances Peter wrote these words, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).
As Christians, we shouldn’t be surprised. We should expect it.
Jesus said to us, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). If he said that and we are his followers, why are we so surprised when we encounter it? We shouldn’t be surprised.
Don’t make demands.
They accepted the reality of the fire without demands (Daniel 3:17-18).
Christians don’t have to make demands because we know that God is in control.
When people asked him how he was doing, Art DeMoss would often respond, “Better than I deserve.” The fact is we’re all doing better than we deserve.
I think it was Mother Teresa who used to say, “Bless those who curse you…Think of what they would say if they knew the truth.”
You remember the story of Job. Job was in bad shape and his wife was not altogether that happy with him. She suggested that he curse God and die, to which Job replied, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10).
One of the most important principles of the Christian life is that of relinquishment.
When my late friend Catherine Marshall went with her husband, Peter, to Washington where he had been called to serve as the pastor of a major church in that city, the joy of the move was greatly diminished by a lung infection that left her bedridden. She did everything that any Christian would do to get better. She saw the best doctors. She asked people to pray, and they did. She decided that perhaps God was chastening her, so Catherine wrote and asked forgiveness of everyone she had ever sinned against, including a letter to a grammar school teacher in whose class she had cheated. She pleaded with God to make her well. Nothing happened. If anything, she got worse.
Finally Catherine gave up. She prayed what she called “the prayer of relinquishment.” Catherine told God that she had done everything she knew to do, that she hated being in bed when her husband and family needed her, and that she wanted to be healed. But she also gave up her “rights” to be healed. She said in effect, “Father, if you want me to stay in this bed the rest of my life, I accept your will in the matter. I relinquish the whole situation to you.” At that moment Catherine Marshall started getting well and was soon fully recovered.
Does that mean if you relinquish your pain to God, your pain will then end? Of course not. Relinquishment is just that…relinquishment.
God is sovereign. It is the business of God to run the universe and to run your life. You can really trust him—your loving Father. Your business is simply to run to him. When you can’t fight something and you can’t run from something, you have to relinquish it.
They recognized the reality of the fire with trust (Daniel 3:18).
The story of these three men in the fire is not a story teaching the spurious lesson that if you have faith in God, you won’t have to go through the fire. That would be silly. The lesson to be learned here is this: If you have faith in God, you will be able to deal with the fire however God ordains that you deal with it.
You see, God controls the circumstances of our lives and it is in those circumstances that we learn what he teaches, cooperate with his plans and work for his glory.
Are you angry with your parents? Instead, properly be angry with God. Are you angry with your employer? Instead, properly be angry with God. Are you angry with your friend? Instead, properly be angry with God.
When Sir Thomas Moore was being led forth under the sentence of death, his daughter, Margaret, rushed through the guards, threw herself upon her father’s neck and wept in despair. He said, “My dear Margaret, submit with patience. Grieve no longer of me. It is the will of God.”
Now there are a number of possible reasons for your fire:
God may be bringing you to the end of yourself in order for you to trust him.
God may be teaching you something.
God may be furthering his plan, even if don’t have any idea what that plan is and may not discover it in this lifetime.
God may be using the pain of your fire to witness to the reality of your life. I believe that God allows Christians to go through the same thing unbelievers go through so that the world may know the difference.
However there is always one main reason for the fire…
They experienced the reality of the fire with anticipation. It was to God’s glory (Daniel 3:18,28-29).
From the Shorter Catechism: “Q. What is the chief end of man? A. To glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”
It’s about God.
John the Baptist said, “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:29-30).
Do you see it? John’s statement is not meant to make you feel condemned and guilty. It is a statement meant to give you great joy. It is all to the glory of God.
You are not alone.
They underwent the reality of the fire with intimacy. “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 3:25).
Fred Smith once told the story of a little girl whose friend was killed. She went to visit her dead friend’s mother. Later, when asked by her own mother what the little girl said to the woman, she replied, “I didn’t say anything. I just crawled up in her lap and we cried together.”
You are not alone. Jesus says to us, “If you go, I’ll go with you.”
I can’t promise that you won’t have to go through the fire, it won’t hurt, and it won’t be hot. But I can promise you this: If you go, he’ll go with you.
You can dance.
They came from the reality of the fire with joy (Daniel 3:30).
We don’t dance because we don’t hurt. We dance because it doesn’t matter and, in the end, it will be okay.
We don’t dance because we like the fire. We dance because of the One who dances with us.
We don’t dance because everything is fine. We dance because God has given us the music and we can’t help it.
We are in the hands of a sovereign and loving God…and we can dance because of that fact.
Time to Draw Away
Read Psalm 23 & Mark 4:35-41
Are you in a fire right now? God is with you in your pain and struggle. He has it all covered…even when (especially when) it doesn’t feel like it. So go to him without censoring a thing: your anger, fear, doubt and pain. Your loving Father really can be trusted. You’ll find rest in his arms.