Friday, August 11, 2023

Into the Fire

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychological diagnosis that involves a person’s response to a traumatic event. It includes symptoms of depression, anxiety, irritability, hypervigilance, and flashbacks. For an event to be considered traumatic, it must meet certain criteria. Let me give you an example of a traumatic event: being thrown into a fiery furnace. 

In Daniel 3, we read of three Hebrew men – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – who were thrown into a blazing inferno as punishment for not worshiping a golden idol. I can assume we all know how the story goes: The king saw four men walking around in the fire and concluded that one of them was the son of God. The men were retrieved, unharmed. Great story.
But here’s what is really miraculous about this story:
Daniel 3:27 (ESV)
And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king's counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.
Not only were the men unharmed, but there was no evidence of fire on them. The fire that had killed the very guards who threw these men into the fire, had no power over these God-worshipers. Their hair was not singed, their clothes were not touched, and they didn’t even smell like fire. If you’ve ever been to a bonfire, even if you sat far from the flames, you’ve come away smelling like fire. But these men had absolutely no evidence of having gone through flames. 
So why do we come away from difficult times smelling of bitterness, stained with irritability, anxious, victimized? That isn’t God’s plan for you. Instead, no matter what we face, Paul tells us this:
Romans 8:37 (ESV)
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
So no matter what you face, if you go through it with Jesus, he is able to keep you unharmed. He is able to prevent all evidence of your trial from stinking up your life! 
The key is this: inviting Jesus into the fire with you. 
These men in Daniel 3 did so by their obedience to God and by telling the king that no matter what happened, they would only worship God, even if God chose not to deliver them. We don’t choose God as fire-insurance. We choose God. Even if he doesn’t intervene. We choose God. We invite Jesus into the fire with us. Because with Jesus, the fire has no power over us. 

How has difficulty changed you? For better or worse? Why?
How can you invite Jesus into the fire with you?
What evidence of fire are you ready for God to remove from you life?

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