I first thought of the three Hebrew children as they were thrown into the fiery furnace. Then I thought about Daniel and the entire night he spent in the lion's den. In times past these stories were really frustrating to me as they all were delivered out of their trials while most caregivers faithfully face their furnace day after day. But today my mind took a different route.
For these two stories what stood out to me in my morning devotions was the fact that God showed up. Technically, He didn't deliver them out of the trial, but He walked through it with them. The king in both of these stories had delivered these men of God to their fate - and the king in both stories removed the men from their trials. But God showed up.
God was present in the fire with the three Hebrew children, but He was not visible once the king's men got them out. The Angel of the Lord came and shut the lion's mouths while Daniel spent the night in their den, but the king came and got him out the next morning when he with feeble faith said, O Daniel, was your God who you serve able to deliver you? Indeed He was! But God didn't open the mouth of the sealed den and let Daniel out, He spent the night there with him.
There are so many stories where God showed up to walk through trials with people of faith. I think of Hagar, who was leaving the mistreatment of Sarah. God showed up and prophesied about her son, Ishmael, but then told her to go back to Sarah and server her. He didn't whisk her away on a white horse.
What about Jeremiah? Some of believer's favorite words were penned by this prophet. I know the plans I have for you....But Jeremiah did not escape the captivity of his day. Instead, God walked through it with him. And all throughout scriptures in stories of great trials and tribulations we see God showing up. His presence hovered over the Children of Israel while they made their way, the long way, through the wilderness - but they still endured the wilderness.
He was with Joseph when he was sold by his brothers into a lifetime of slavery; and also with him when he was in prison for something he didn't do. Even though Joseph did some great things through God's direction - he never just went home.
This morning I am encouraged by these stories of faith in the furnace. God doesn't always make the fire just go away - but He always shows up and walks through it with us giving us the strength and the courage to face each new day.
Today my thoughts will be on the ever abiding presence of God. I'm going to meditate on the fact that He's not afraid to walk through my furnace(s) with me. When it gets hotter - He gets nearer. Instead of always looking for that way out - I'm going to look for signs of His presence in the fire today. I'll listen for Him and look for Him. And when I sense Him, I'll lean in close to see what He has to say. Will you join me?