Monday, August 31, 2015

Through the Fire, Heroes Emerge

Heroes. We all have them. Who are your heroes?

Hero by definition is someone of distinguished courage or ability, admired for their brave deeds and noble qualities.

Here's my short list of Hall of Heroes:
     Corrie ten Boom
     Richard Wurmbrand
     George Muller
     John Bunyan
     Abraham Lincoln
     C.S. Lewis
     Martin Luther
And from the bible:
     Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
     Joseph (the one with the awesome coat and slew of brothers)
     Queen Esther
     and the prophet, Elijah
I can not help but be moved by the way these people lived and died. One of the common factors in EVERY single person on my list is they endured hardships courageously and stood strong. This is what inspires me about each of them. They trusted God in extraordinary ways.

What makes some people come through hardship with so much grace? In my studies over the past years, I'd say it always, always comes back to the way they view God and are able to trust him completely. It's not because they were great, in and of themselves. It's because of the One in whom they trusted, was great! Hardship and Heroes. They seem to go hand in hand.

Even as a young girl, when I'd read the accounts of my heroes, it didn't stop with admiration. I found myself wanting to be like them. Funny, isn't it, how we want what they have, but not the trials they went through? What if I truly believed that everything in my life passed through the hand of God, for a purpose, for good. Be sure you hear this though: it's not that everything is good. The death of a loved one, cancer, wars... they're horrible! But what if I believed that God wouldn't allow anything into my life that he didn't choose. If this is true, the verse, "If God is for us, who can be against us," is much more powerful than I'd ever believed before! (Rom. 8:31)

Remember Job? Let's look at him for a moment while we ponder this thought.

     The story begins with the angels presenting themselves to God, "and Satan came along, also".  So the Lord says, "Where have you been?" to which Satan replies, "Roaming the earth." Observe carefully now because it's the LORD who begins by saying, "Have you considered my servant Job?" He proceeds to brag him up a bit. Satan retorts, "Job doesn't have to fear because you've protected him. But if YOU stretch out YOUR hand and strike everything he has, he will surely curse YOU to your face." God tells Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself, you won't lay a finger." 

God was going to use Satan for his own purposes in Job's life. Hard to understand, but keep reading.

     All within a day's time, Job lost his herd of livestock, and some servants were killed by enemies; fire came from the sky and burned up his flocks of sheep and more servants died; the Chaldeans took his camels, killed more servants; and his sons and daughters died when a wind blew the house over on them and killed them! Job's response is this:
          "Naked I was born, naked I will leave. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.  May the name of the Lord be praised."

     Job's story continues with him being struck with painful sores from bottom to top of his body. His wife then says, "Curse God and die!" And Job responds with, "Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?" His sufferings were great. Then to top it off, his friends show up to say the LORD is doing this because Job must be at fault for something. Surely the LORD would do something to rescue him if he were in fact pure and upright. Again, Job had a rebuttal, "Though he slay me, yet I will hope in him."
     Finally, in chapter 38 the Lord speaks. He never answers a single "why" question. He only answers with WHO he is.  At the end of Job's biography we see that it's the LORD who blessed the latter part of Job's life even more than the first. He gave him twice what he'd owned before. And Job's extended family "consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him" .  He eventually had 7 more sons and 3 more daughters. He died, old and full of years, we're told.

     It's easy to read this story as "Poor Job. Passive God. Aggressive Devil." But there is no where throughout the entire story that GOD is not seen as the one in charge of all that's allowed into Job's life. Satan said, "YOU protect him.  YOU should stretch out your hand and touch him." The wife says, "Curse GOD!" Job says, "Though YOU slay me, I will praise you still." 

You may be saying, "I don't want a God like that!" Yes. Yes, we do. Would we rather that God is just a passive God who allows outside, purposeless forces or a powerful Devil to rule our lives? That we sit at the mercy of some cosmic chaos with no direction?  He is a holy God with the power to do exactly what's needed in our lives to refine us. How different would I endure hardship if I saw that it all comes through my loving Heavenly Father's hands? 

Though God is able to rescue from the fire, he often doesn't. But he ALWAYS goes through it with us. Oh! There is so much I wish I could type to convey what is tugging at my heart about this but I'm going to leave this blog with a few scripture references to complete this thought. I hope you'll take the time to read them.

Before moving on in my blog about freedom and peace, trust and rest, I HAD to lay this foundational stone to stack my other thoughts on. I'm compelled to believe that He is the "author and perfecter of my faith." And I've heard it said that we are either coming out of a crisis, in the middle of a crisis, or headed into a crisis. I don't want to be caught off guard. I hope to be firmly planted on the Rock, like so many of my heroes who have gone before and shown me what it looks like to trust in Him.

Incredible verses and stories about faith in adversity:
     Daniel 3
     Hebrews 12
     1 Peter 4:12-13
     James 1:1-16


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