Joy in the Furnace – Part 1
I don’t know about you, but finding joy in any trial – even the “little” ones –was never an easy task for me. I knew that as a Christian, I “should” look at things that way, but it just seemed to be one of those things that I would never accomplish during my life here on earth.
That all began to change last winter, when I found myself dealing with a debilitating illness. For four months, I was unable to do much of anything from a physical standpoint. However, God used that time to do a work in my spiritual life…mainly teaching me how to find joy in my trials. It was more than simply choosing to be happy IN SPITE OF my trials. It was a time of truly learning to thank God FOR the trials. It was a process of discovering that it IS possible to rejoice in – yes, get excited about – even the toughest, most painful trials.
One day, I was telling God how tired I was of being sick. I was completely overwhelmed with my circumstances. I had so many things that needed done; I couldn’t do anything because of my health; I had nobody to help me with things; I was afraid; I was lonely; I wanted it all to end…. Honestly, I was just having a good pity party that day. I had put on a CD to listen to, hoping to lift my spirits.
A song started playing and two lines from that song really got my attention. It says, “If you lead us to the fire, you will not withdraw your hand; We’ll gaze into the flames and look for you.” God just stopped me in my tracks right there and said, “
He was so right – but then again, He always is. I tend to do one of two things when I am going through trials in my life. Either I look at the “stuff” (situations, circumstances, people) going on in my life – or I decide to ignore all that “stuff” and focus instead on all the good things that God has done/is doing in my life. There is nothing wrong with looking at the good. In fact, God’s Word tells us that we ARE to think on good things. It says in Phil. 4:8, ”Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”(KJV)
It IS good to think on the good – we need to have our thoughts on those things. However, I believe God was telling me that I needed to look to HIM wherever HE is. He doesn’t want me to forget or ignore the good things He has done, but He wants me to follow Him and see Him IN the trials too. If I am looking at the “stuff” – even the good “stuff” -- I can’t focus on HIM and see what He longs to do in and through the trial.
I began to think of trials as being in the fire, comparing the “stuff” to the flames. I was drawn to the story in Daniel of Shadrach,
For sake of time and space, I am not going to cite the entire story, but I highly encourage you to read the first three chapters of
More importantly, though, is the fact that they were men who loved and served God – and ONLY God. When commanded to bow down and worship the king’s golden image, they refused. Even when threatened with death, they stood firm in their convictions, certain that one way or another God would deliver them. (
The first principle from this story is that I WILL have trials in my life. It is easy to think that trials only affect certain people – those from a certain social or economic class, race, etc. Many times, we think that trials only come to people who “deserve” them due to sin or “poor choices” in life. Therefore, if I am going through a trial, I must have done something wrong to deserve it.
The truth of the matter is that EVERYBODY has trials. NOBODY is exempt from them. It does not matter how wealthy we are; how high up on the socio-economic ladder we are; how good or bad we are. It doesn’t even matter how little or great our faith in God is.
The second thing we can learn here is that God is with me in the furnace (trials).
The Bible contains MANY passages where God promises that He will ALWAYS be with us and that He will NEVER leave us or forsake us. One of my favorites is Isaiah 43:2-3 “When you pass through the waters, I WILL be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”(ESV) Here are some other passages where this promise is evident: Genesis 21:22; 26:24: 28:15; 31:3; Deuteronomy 4:29-31; 20:4; 31:6-8,23; Joshua 1:5,9; 1 Chronicles 28:20; 2 Chronicles 20:17; Psalm 9:10; 16:8-10; 23:4; 37:25,28; Isaiah 41:17; 42:16; Zephaniah 3:17; Romans 15:33; 2 Corinthians 4:9; 13:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:16; Hebrews 13:5.
I think there are two parts to God being with me in the furnace. The first is the more obvious factor, simply that I am NEVER alone. He is ALWAYS with me through the presence of the Holy Spirit. The second part – the part I often forget – is that there is NOTHING I go through that
Next time we will look at what God does during the trials in our lives. Until then, “do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” (I Peter 4:12). Remember, you will have trials BUT you are never alone. Your Father who loves you is with you, wanting to do a mighty work in and through that very trial.
Debbie Guinn was born in Phoenix, AZ, graduated from