"I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord, "plans to give you a hope and a future."

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Through the Fire

God promises He will not burden us with more than we can take. I think it would be better described as not giving us more than we can take with Him helping us. Alone, I am weak and unable. Alone, I often fail and falter. Alone, I stumble in the dark. God promises to see us through.

Some examples?

How about in the book of Daniel when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego took a stand in serving God and God alone? They refused to bow to an idol knowing they were to worship only the true and living God. The king sent them to the fiery furnace. A furnace so hot it killed the men around it. What were these three men thinking as they stood on the brink of death? Did they want God to deliver them and save them from the furnace? Did their hope diminish as they edged closer and closer to the flames?

God could have saved them from the fire but instead He saved them through the fire. Were they afraid as they went into the flames? Did their hearts nearly faint awaiting a painful death? But then to the amazement of everyone around they looked and the men were in the furnace but they were not burning. Even more shocking to all who watched was that a fourth man was in the furnace with them. They were never, not even for one minute, alone. God saved them through the fire. What did this angel of the Lord say to the men as they stood with the fires raging around them? Did he speak words of comfort and peace and salvation or were they content to be merely in the angel’s presence?

I also think of Jairus and his daughter. Jairus sought Jesus and asked him to save his dying daughter. Jesus agreed but along the way an old woman touched the hem of Jesus’ clothes and she was healed. Jesus stopped to find who touched him. How do you think Jairus felt at that moment? How would you feel with each desperate step knowing your child was dying back at home and the man who could save her had stopped to talk to an old woman? I know how I would have felt. I would have been desperate. I would have wanted to rush the Lord and beg him to hurry and to leave the old woman.

Jesus knew Jairus’ despair and urgency and then someone comes to tell Jairus to leave Jesus alone because it’s too late. His daughter has died. Jesus tells Jairus, “Be not afraid, only believe.” It took belief for Jairus to go to Jesus and belief to lead Jesus towards his home where his daughter was dying and now Jesus says, “Don’t stop believing!” When everything seemed hopeless and lost Jesus encourages him.

The remainder of the journey to Jairus’ house must have been filled with a wide arrange of emotions. Did Jairus even once wonder if they would have made it in time if people hadn’t been crowding Jesus? What if the old woman hadn’t stopped them? Had he spent his daughter’s last hours on earth searching for Jesus instead of being by the girl’s side? I can only guess as the Bible doesn’t specifically tell us.

Jesus gets to Jairus’ house and people are wailing and making much “ado.” When Jesus says, “The little girl is only sleeping,” the people laugh at him. Jesus then puts everyone out except the parents. He will not allow those who were full of disbelief to now witness his miracle. He was not there to “show off” what He could do.

Jesus then raises the girl from the dead.

Jesus could have healed the girl from afar. He could have ignored the old woman or asked the crowd to move so He could have healed her before she died. So why the delay? Jesus often meets us in our moments of greatest need when all hope seems to be lost and when despair threatens to consume us.

God never promised we would walk the easy road but He did promise to be with us through the fire, through the despair, and through all life might throw at us. We are never alone. The same God who calmed the storm is the same one who will calm our hearts when we are afraid.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

2 When you pass through the waters,

I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,

they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,

you will not be burned.

Isaiah 43:2

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