Dear Reader, I am so excited about this post. I have been learning and soaking up God's Word in a way that I never have before and I am full to overflowing, so I must share with you.
As background, our ladies group has been delving into Beth Moore's Bible study on Daniel. We're only into week three, but I have learned so much and can't wait for more. It's meaty and satisfying. And yet, at the same time, it leaves me hungry for more. Doesn't life seem to work that way? When we're in the Word we hunger for more. When we're away, we're reluctant to start back up again.
I have often wondered, as many people do, why God let's bad things happen to good people. And I don't just mean good people, I mean godly people. There's so much tragedy out there why can't God let it all happen to those who don't love Him? Or why let any of it happen at all?
I've always just tried to hold onto the fact that God knows better than I do what is best in any given situation and tried not to question it. He knows the big picture and it'll all work out for the good of those who love the Lord. And while that is true, it was never quite enough of an answer for me.
(I've grown up in church and have heard many sermons. And while I have heard some of what I am about to share with you before, this time it has stuck. Sometimes I wonder if I have been walking through a comfortable Christian daze for 30 years. Why in the world has it taken me so long to catch some of the truths that have been hitting me so hard in the face lately?!)
Anyway, it can be argued that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are the most well known Biblical believers to face a fiery trial. Literally. And God's miracle of delivering them is amazing. But it doesn't always happen that way.
There are three scenarios that we as Christians face in the midst of our very own fiery trials:
* We can be delivered from the fire.
*We can be delivered through the fire.
*We can be delivered by the fire into His arms.
Powerful. But that doesn't explain why God lets the trial happen.
Isn't our purpose here on earth to glorify God? Yes. It is the reason we were created. There are many ways to glorify God, but it seems to me the ultimate way to worship and glorify God is to become more like Jesus. And that is where our faith comes in. We certainly can't do it on our own, so we rely on God to provide opportunities for us to become more like Him. Having been created in His image is a great start. But more is needed.
So, if we look at that three scenarios again we can see the benefits (or to use Beth's word: dividends) of each.
*We can be delivered from the fire and our faith is built.
*We can be delivered through the fire and our faith is refined.
*We can be delivered by the fire into His arms and our faith is perfected or completed.
We all want to be delivered from the fire. No question. But, honestly, that route has the least of the dividends for us. I am not suggesting that we should be requesting fiery trials, but we should recognize that at these times we can look forward to our faith being built, refined or completed.
"If ever He does not [deliver us] and the flames of death or tragedy consume us, it is to light a fire somewhere and in some heart that can never be extinguished." Beth Moore
That is why God lets bad things happen to good people: it always points us back to God. Whether we acknowledge it or not. Going through fiery trials is for our good, but it's also for His glory.
At some point all true believers are going home; we will be delivered into His arms. But take heart because we also know that to be absent from the body is to be present with Christ.
Shouldn't we all be looking forward to that?!