Give me a word, Lord: FAITH IN THE FIRE

1 Peter 1:5-9 And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

These sure are some scary times we are living in. I’ve reached a point in my life that I almost don’t even want to watch the news and see what is happening, but rather just put all my trust in Christ. We often ask why does God allow crisis into our lives? We know that He is a loving God, full of grace and mercy, yet still crisis comes upon us again and again, one trial after another. It is our natural human instinct to think that crises are bad, but that is not necessarily true. God often uses trials to bring about something good for us.

Peter reminds us in the scripture reading today that through our faith, God is protecting us by His power, and therefore, we should be glad when we are enduring trials. Glad? He is kidding, right? No, Peter reminds us that when we endure trials, the genuine nature of our faith is revealed. How genuine is your faith in God? Put a little fire under your faith and see. Peter uses the example of our faith being tested as fire tests pure gold. Have you ever thought about or seen the purification process of gold? Purification comes from the gold being plunged into the heart of the fire — the place where fire is harshest and turns blue — and being kept there until the gold which is being purified loses any resemblance to what it once was. The end result of the process is pure gold without anything added to it, no debris, no filth, no dirt — just pure gold. Now consider this in relationship to testing faith. When we undergo a trial that is too much for us to endure, we recognize that we must place total faith in Christ. We fully trust that God will be our salvation, and our faith is genuine, pure, without any doubt to hinder our trust in Him.

I can’t help but think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when I think of purifying faith through fire. Nebuchadnezzar had a statue of himself constructed that was ninety feet tall and ninety feet wide, and he had commanded all people to worship the statue any time they heard the sound of music played. Young Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego only worshipped the one true God, and refused to worship this statue. They were brought before the king and given the opportunity to bow again before being thrown into the fire, but they still refused. They responded, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.  But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”  (Daniel 3:17-18) These young men were tested by the fire, and their faith was most genuine. They trusted that God would save them, and they said that even if He didn’t, they still wouldn’t worship the gold statue. That, my friends, is true faith by fire.

Right now, our faith is being tested by fire, but rather than asking, “Why is God allowing this to happen to me?”, we should be asking, “What is God trying to teach me through this situation?” When we are going through a trial, we get good practice at sniffing out the very presence of God in the middle of a circumstance that otherwise just stinks! We can’t resist this kind of faith. When we do, we miss the whole point. But when we follow God’s lead, place full and absolute trust in Him, we soon discover a blessed richness that last long after the terrible crisis has ended. Basically, we have two choices when it comes to trials. We can sit back and whine and complain, throw a pity party and sulk, and fuss about how unfair our life is, or we can place full and complete trust in God knowing without a shadow of a doubt that He will bring us through the trial. He will show us the way, and through the fire, our faith will be purified as we see that every trial is for our good and God’s glory.

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