As the sound rips you from a weightless dream, you blink into the blackness, with only the blue numbers on the alarm clock to indicate that your eyes are open. The sound mercilessly moving through your home is painful and unforgiving in the early morning hours. Your son thinks so too as you detect a faint scream from the nursery, the cries landing on your ears in a much softer way than the brutality of the alarm, which seems to have gotten louder since you awoke. As your mind desperately tries to catch up with your beating heart, the sound urgently warns you of something to fear, but you see no fire, smell no smoke, feel no heat, as you quickly pray, without thinking, that it is a false alarm.
Scrambling out of bed, your husband goes toward the source of the sound to resurrect silence, while you rush in to grab the baby, your hastiness causing even more panic in the small, vulnerable bundle. Silence resettles itself around your family like a light, muslin blanket as you calm your child. The peace is such a relief, it does not even occur to you that it may not last when you suddenly hear your husband, panic in a voice that would not even recognize it, “FIRE!”
When a spark settles itself onto your home, igniting a tragedy much larger than itself, you rarely receive warning. When the realization that a piece of your life is burning comes upon you, it is harsh, blinding, unforgiving, like a fire alarm in the dead of night. It is often too late to prepare your mind, your heart, your faith for what you will face—forcing you to ride out the tragedy with the only strength you can muster, and this strength often does not seem like enough to carry you through to the morning light.
For the past six weeks, the life I knew has slowly been burning away and I can’t seem to find a water source to dull the blaze. It has, at times, only been smoldering, but in other moments faith, certainty, and security have been fully ablaze.
Thankfully, I am still blessed enough to be able to sit here at my dining room table with my house fully intact, and my fire alarm has not made a sound since I burnt dinner a few months ago. However, the fire my family and I are experiencing is just as real to me. My husband is currently at the clinic for a mysterious and undiagnosed illness for the sixth time in 6 weeks and our pickup is in the shop for the second time in 2 weeks. Each of these things is bound to cost us more money than we have as our savings for our second baby drains dry. The security I once knew has long been scorched with the burden of health scares, financial difficulties, job problems, and unexpected repair bills.
I fell asleep peacefully last night after an incredible weekend believing the blaze had finally been defeated, leaving us to pick up the burned pieces and deal with some minor smoldering; however, I was awoken this morning to the cold, harsh reality that the fire is still burning.
As the fire pitilessly burns through what I once knew, fear comes with it. In fact, there have been moments when the worry concerning our finances and my husband’s health has become so intense, I struggle to even pray, not from lack of faith but from lack of words. Multiple times throughout the past weeks, I have envisioned God as some sort of tormentor, for some reason choosing my family as His next victims. I know that this is not true, but I also feel that there is no other way to explain the immense bad luck that follows us around like a cloud.
However, when I do envision the Lord as a tormentor of my family, instead of our Savior, I am forgetting one crucial detail. I am forgetting that I have quite literally prayed to Him in constant faith for the past six weeks. Even in absolute despair, God has been my comfort and my constant companion. There are days that I feel confident in His guidance and I am sure of His protection; there are also days that I have begged and pleaded with Him to just make His presence known, so I don’t feel so alone. However, I have never once, in my fear of our circumstances or my doubt in His presence, actually turned from Him in anger.
It is our sin that causes us to blame God for our trials, and I am just as sinful as I have always been. My faithfulness during this time has nothing to do with my own efforts to find Christ and cling to Him against all odds; my faithfulness is because of God’s efforts to persistently remind me that He will provide for me; He will protect me; He will never fail me. This is His promise. I can forget it or I can repeat it as my mantra, either way, it is the truth that I rely upon: He will never fail me.
From my past experiences, God has shown me that no matter how long I stay angry at Him, I will always fall down at His feet in the end. This is because He is my only option—this is because, without Him, my struggle would serve no purpose, and there would be nowhere else to go for comfort. Without the Lord, I would be left out in the cold, watching my home burn to the ground. Instead, God gives me the strength to carry on inside my burning world with no need to clamber for the fire department or for water, I need to only rest in His mercy.
In a world of painful uncertainty, God is the only thing that is certain—the only thing that never changes in our ever-changing lives. At a time where I constantly wonder if I am strong enough for this, God is the essence of strength, and in turn, uses my weakest moments for His glory. At a time where I am sure no solution can be found, God is sure of His plan, and desires most for me to rest in his unfathomable wisdom. When my minute and human knowledge is shrouded in darkness and fear, God’s promises stand fixed in the Holy Bible, reminding me always that His word never changes.
So in the midst of my darkest moments, I no longer have a choice to walk away from the Lord and fight my way out on my own. Things only get darker in the absence of Christ’s light. I will not stand on my weak faith and my feeble understanding, but will find solid ground on God’s truth. While the ground is falling apart beneath me, and the fire eats away at the walls around me, God is my solid footing—He is my shelter, my home–fighting against His plan will only make things crumble more quickly.
Hebrews 12:29 says, “For our God is a consuming fire.” The verses before this speak of Heaven being a place that “cannot be shaken” so Christians must have grace “by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” This passage serves as a glorious reminder that we should not turn away from the Lord, for He knows all, sees all, and wills all from Heaven, the place we all belong.
Fire is an all-consuming power that does not succumb to human will. This will not be the last season in my life where I find myself fighting to detect blessings, while a fire nourishes itself on everything that was once a comfort to me, threatening to persevere until it reaches my soul. Even in these times, God’s fire is bigger and shines with more brilliance and burns with more force than any pathetic destruction an earthly fire could cause.
As I face these trials which seem to have no end, I will choose to find light in God’s fire, dancing and singing praises even in the heat of a terrifying and unfamiliar blaze. I will not fear and I will not be shaken by the trials and burdens of this planet because God’s fire is hotter as it comes from Heaven, the place where I belong.