Monday, February 6, 2012

Fiery Furnace of Affliction

It seems that in the past year, an extraordinarily high number of people I come into contact with, have a loved one experiencing cancer or some other life-threatening disease. The deadly diseases of this world have no regard for the age of it’s recipient, or whether they believe in God or not. No, sadly the affliction of cancer and it’s deadly cousins, do not care for whom they harm or kill...they just strike out and hope to destroy not only their victim...but also to inflict great pain into the lives of those who love them. Although these deadly afflictions care not whom they touch...God cares. 

I am currently in the first weeks of an in-depth Bible study by Beth Moore on the Book of Daniel. It was after one of her lesson, concerning when people of God face a fiery trial, that I wrote to a friend in Christ, whose young son is battling a life-threatening health issue. He doesn’t have cancer...but the threats to his well-being are serious. A portion of what I shared with my friend came from what I learned from Beth’s teachings. Most comes  from what God has given to me as insight for understanding from my own experience of having gone through a “fiery trial of affliction” along side my husband.

I would like to share with you an edited portion of what I wrote to my friend...for I feel certain that some who are reading this, are either currently going through a fiery trial, or will be called to experience one in the future. 

"Dear friends, don’t be surprised about the fiery trials that have come among you to test you. These are not strange happenings."                       ~ 1 Peter 4:12 CEB

I wrote...

“Sometimes I think people assume that God has "chosen" only His "warrior" children to go through the type of affliction you and your family are going through. But I don't believe that for one minute. I would not have counted me in that category, that’s for sure, when Brad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer! Yet, I often heard people say to me how "strong in faith I was".  Not unlike you and Karen right now...I also found my strength in faith came from my firm belief that God is always with me and He alone can deliver me (us). This kind of faith I think, is not really so uncommon to most followers of Christ....but perhaps it has just not been tested in the same manner as we have been tested.

No one, regardless of their strength of faith would think to ask or ever choose to step into the furnace of afflictions...why, even Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were tied up and thrown in! was their faith that allowed them to face the fiery furness rather than turn and run from their belief in God's love and matter what the result of their faith would bring upon them. They were willing to allow God to take the responsibility for their lives and for what would happen to their earthly being. They  were trusting that God would deliver them safely either on this side of death or into His Presence. 

What splendid security is found in this kind of faith! I searched for security all my the people I loved...the jobs I worked..the money I saved... And yet, it was through a fiery furnace of affliction that I found it. In Jesus alone. Accepting Jesus's love for me as ‘more than enough’ is where my search for security ended in finding this treasure... for it is in that truth, my security can never to be taken, lost, or stolen from me again. Glory!

I pray you and Karen continue to feel the love and prayers of all who would do everything possible to keep you from going through this trial if we could. If we so flawed a friend feel this way about you... how much more God does! The good thing about God loving you more than family and friends, is He also has the power and strength and determination to walk through this fiery trial with you and refine your faith like gold... never to leave any doubt that you are His...allowing you to shine so that His glory is seen by others in you! 

Please know...I continue to pray for your blazing furnace of affliction to be opened very soon and for you to hear our King shout; "Toby, Karen, Sawyer...come out! Servants of the Most High God,come here!” (Daniel 3:26). 

I pray that like our friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that the fire of affliction will result with you finding no harm has been accomplished to your bodies and that the fire did not burn you or leave you smelling of it's smoke! May only the precious fragrance of the Rose of Sharon who was always right there in the furnace with you, be the only smell left upon you all forever and always." ~ Kathy

I pray that these personal words of love and encouragement that the Lord gave me to share with a friend also touches your heart and encourages you as well. Perhaps, you too are going through a blazing furnace of affliction right now. I pray that what I have shared here may help to encourage you to trust this truth as well...                                                                          

What touches God’s children ~ touches God! 

“...Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NIV

In His Grace,

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