One day, quite a while ago, I spent some time reflecting on the account of Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael in the fiery furnace and considering a few applications for life. Without doubt, these men experienced a very fiery trial. Though, not in the same way, we today also feel the flames of trials. What is their purpose?
God’s sends flames of fire into our lives not to burn, but to purify. All that He sends is good. Does this mean that it won’t be hard? No! Does it mean that it will not hurt? Absolutely not! But everything God sends is for our good, our sanctification. Every animal trainer knows that if he wants to get the most out of his animal, the training process will sometimes be painful for the animal. I have seen animals that are so well trained, they will do absolutely anything for their masters. But what made them this way? It was their training. Every little flaw had to be eradicated. And so it is with us.
Ephesians 1:4 states that God choses to be holy and blameless. “He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him…” Becoming holy and blameless is not automatic upon salvation. It is a long process that will only be complete in the day of Christ. This is sanctification. It requires fire, and that fire is good.
That night, I lay in bed considering all the good things the Lord has placed in my life. Many of these are things in which I do not currently see the good, but I know that they are good because they are sent from Him. As I lay there thinking about it, I realised again, as I have on other occasions, that one day I will probably look back at these things and say, “I would not have had it any other way. It was good.” So then, why not begin to look on these things in that light now? They are good things that the Lord is using to purify me and to bring glory to Himself. I began to make a mental list of all the things I now find hard. I’m sure each of you have a list of your own. Silently I brought each one before the Lord and thanked Him for these good things. Some of these things could seem like such little flames, but they are flames none the less. May they accomplish the purpose for which God sent them!
A comforting and strengthening realisation that came to me as I was thinking through all this was that though the flames may be hot, we are not left to stand them alone. Just as in Daniel 3, those three men had a Companion in their fire, even so, we, too, have that same Companion—the One Who designed the fire to begin with and Who has laid it on Himself to bring us through. His ways are infinitely better than my desires! My purpose in life, therefore, must not be to get what I want, but to receive with joy what He gives and to accept with a grateful heart that which He withholds, knowing that it is all good.