By Fire

The fire is inescapable. It laps at my skin. My head is screaming for help but no voice escapes. My throat is dry and parched. My mouth is pasty. I try to scream again. Again there is nothing, no voice, no sound, nothing. My stomach is reeling because of the pain that surrounds my body. The fire keeps licking at my skin. The pain is excruciating. I stoop down and curl up to get away from it but it keeps coming at me. The smoke fills my lungs. I can’t even cough anymore. The flames and the fire surround me. I cannot run and hide. There is no one around to help. I cannot even cry for help. My skin is charred. I ache even for just a drop of water or just a small amount of relief. Yet, there is nothing.

What is this? What am I talking about? Where am I headed with this? Does this remind you of anything? No, no, not hell. This is something that every believer needs to go through. This is something that David experienced. It is something that Job went through. Also, it is something that Paul, Esther, and Adam endured. It is probably something that you went through and it’s something that I went through. Yet, we’ve all been through this in varying degrees. Do you know what I’m talking about yet? Do you have a clue?

I am talking about our trial by fire. It is about our refining process. This is what every believer must go through. The trials and temptations God sends our way to test us and cause us to grow more and more, leaning towards God. We see this in our trials don’t we? How we must lean towards God our only help and see that He has sent all things for our good. God has sent trials to help us grow. “Affliction has been for my profit, that I to Thy statutes might hold, Thy law to my soul is more precious than thousands of silver and gold” (Psalter 329, vs. 4). It is amazing that God uses what He does to make us dependent upon Him and to make us recognize who is omnipotent.

God sends each of us different things. To some, He might send an illness. Others, He sends death of a family member. Yet still others, He sends desolation, poverty and pestilence. It may be even something so simple (or so it seems to others) as no friends or the fact that at the time we have to struggle through school. We each have our own trial by fire. “Heavy is my tribulation, sore my punishment has been; broken by Thy indignation, I am troubled by my sin. With my burden of transgression, heavy laden, overborne, humbled low I make confession, for my folly now I mourn. Weak and wounded, I implore Thee: Lord, to me Thy mercy show; all my prayer is now before Thee, all my trouble Thou dost know. Darkness gathers, foes assail me, but I answer not a word; all my friends desert and fail me, only Thou my cry hast heard” (Psalter 102, vs. 2-5). We know what our trial is. We cannot escape it no matter what we do. We must go through them. “For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried” (Ps. 66:10).

David knows the sorrow of pain. He knows the complete emptiness. We can see this and become familiar with it in the Psalms that we sing. It is only in the Psalms that we can both reach the depths that David does and also in the same song to reach the exaltation as well. Isn’t it amazing that we can descend into the depths of sorrow and ascend into the heights of glory all in the same song? God gave us these songs so that these things become familiar to us. Just take a look at all of Psalm 13. David is continually questioning God about being forsaken then at the end David says “I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me” (Ps. 13:6).

We know that when we read the Bible and when we sings the Psalms that we are not alone. We know that the trials sent our way were sent by God. May we be able to turn to the Psalms with a better understanding knowing that it is a balm for our charred skin. It is God that understands our depths and that through turning to Him we are able to be exalted on high. May we always remember “To live apart from God is death, ’tis good His face to seek, my refuge is the living God, His praise I long to speak.”