Have you ever tried to understand God?

Fire is so fascinating to me. I can stare at it forever in the fire pit while we’re roasting s’mores and catching up on life with the family. It’s mesmerizing.

It keeps us warm. It cooks our food. (Did I mention s’mores? Yummy!) It can be used as a power source. In days gone by, they even used it to locate people with smoke signals.

It’s a good thing, right?

It is a good thing, unless it’s burning down your house or a forest or something even more precious. Then it’s a bad thing. A very bad thing.

We see fire in the Bible, too. We see it in Exodus. God appeared to them as a pillar of fire. A strong and immoveable wall between His children and their enemies. Not even the strongest Egyptian could penetrate it. His people were safe.

We see it in Daniel. We learn about it in children’s church. How the 3 Hebrew children were thrown into the fiery furnace but God was with them, and they came out unscathed. Their clothes didn’t burn.

They didn’t even smell like fire. And anyone who’s ever sat at a campfire knows what a miracle that is. You can’t walk away from making s’mores at a campfire without your clothes and skin and hair smelling like smoke.

We read all these different stories in the Bible – this time He protected His people and that time He let them be thrown into the fire. He set a guard around one so they wouldn’t be touched and He let another be sold into slavery and thrown into prison.

What?????

Have you ever tried to understand God? Ever tried to figure Him out?

Ummm…yes. I’ve tried. And failed. Miserably.

I’ve read and read and studied and studied, looking for some clue. Looking for some rhyme or reason as to why He did what He did and does what He does. And do you know what I’ve come up with?

I have no idea. I have no idea why sometimes He quenches the fire and sometimes He walks us through it instead.

The children of Israel were backed up against the Red Sea. I’m sure when they saw that pillar of fire and realized their enemy couldn’t get to them they were relieved. They felt safe. “Whew. He’s protecting us. Hallelujah! Fire is a good thing!”

And I’m equally as sure that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not relieved to see the fire. They weren’t feeling safe. They thought it was a very bad thing.

They were strong in their determination not to bow, that’s for sure. “Whether you choose to throw us in or pardon us, we will not bow.”

I wonder what went through their minds. Did their lives pass before their eyes? Did they want to hug their mamas one more time? Were they thinking “if only” and “I never got to”?

Did they wonder, “Where’s Daniel? The king likes Him. Maybe He could convince old Nebuchadnezzar to change His mind.”

Did they sing a psalm of praise to God from their hymnal right up to the furnace door?

Were they wondering, “Where’s the pillar of fire? I’d rather have that fire right about now. Where are You God and why are You letting this happen?”

Probably. At least until they got thrown into the furnace and didn’t die. Until they stood up in that furnace and God was with them. Until they walked right back out of that furnace not even smelling like smoke.

They knew God as a God who protected FROM. They heard it in the stories passed down every Passover. The pillar of smoke and fire. And He had protected them in the exile. They weren’t executed like some of their peers.

But now they knew Him as the God who delivers THROUGH. They experienced it for themselves.

Oh, I’m sure they would have preferred to be delivered FROM the fire. “Lord, grant us favor. Let him change His mind and not throw us in at all. Move! Intervene!”

Have you ever prayed that?

But He didn’t deliver them FROM. He brought them THROUGH instead.

Why?

I don’t understand the why of it all. But at the end of the day, the why isn’t important. We may never know why. And if you’re stuck there in your mind, let it go. If there’s a why, He’ll show you.

What matters is – He delivers. Whether it’s FROM or THROUGH, the end result is the same, which is:

He is with us.

He is always with us. Surrounding us with His presence and comforting us with His love.

He’s always there. Whether it’s in the pillar of fire separating us from our enemies and protecting us or it’s Him keeping us unharmed in the fire, He is with us.

Rest in that truth today. Say it out loud over and over and over again. Let it saturate your mind and heart and soul with peace.

He’s here.

He’s with me.

He’ll never leave me. Ever.

I’m not alone.

There’s an end to this trial and He’s walking me through.

Amen

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