Hebrews 13:5b-6a – God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid." (NIV)
I was alone in a big shed, and suddenly, I saw a fire beginning to smoulder in a pile of scrap materials on the floor. I ran to the phone and dialed 911. The phone was dead. I tried again. Still dead. Realizing that help was unavailable, I became frantic. I knew that in moments, fire would engulf the building. Quite literally, this dream was turning into a nightmare. In my anxious state, I sauntered towards the fire.
To my surprise, I found my dad standing beside me. Immediately, a sense of peace enveloped me. I felt safe. He calmly picked up a water hose, opened the nozzle, and put it into my hands. He remained close beside me as I pointed the hose towards the fire. In moments, the fire was out.
After I awoke, I enjoyed a lingering sense of comfort and assurance. I pondered over the consoling presence of my heavenly Father.
There is a valuable lesson here: We, as God's people, have no difficulty asserting our faith in God, but the "fires" come to test that faith.
1 Peter 1:7 – These [trials] have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. (NIV 2011)
My initial response to the fire reveals that my faith was actually placed, not in God, but in the work of human hands, and in the time of need, those human measures fell through. I was left robbed of inner peace and beset by anxiety and fear.
Fear is the opposite of faith.
Do you see why trials are vital to our faith formation? They help us to see ourselves more honestly — and to see how weak our faith really is.
Also, it is in the heat of the fire when we discover our heavenly Father coming through. That is how our faith grows stronger and how we become more able to endure future trials. As our trust in God's abiding presence and provision grows, we become less anxious over the "fires". We learn to walk through them with peace and assurance in our heavenly Father's presence.
The threatening fires of evil around us are too much to handle. Yet in the dream, I was given the responsibility of putting out the fire. There was no option of standing back at a distance, disengaged from the danger. There is no armchair Christianity for God's people. We are called to fight "fires".
Normally, fire hoses are too heavy and powerful for us and are intended for trained firemen. In my dream, the hose felt light only because I held it with the power of my father. If we assume that we are strong enough to fight against the flames of evil, we will be tempted to take matters into our own hands. But we will ultimately be consumed by evil ourselves. Or we will run away gripped by fear and robbed of peace.
Victory comes through our heavenly Father as we stand firm with Him in faith. In this way, God receives the glory, and our faith is proved genuine.
Prayer: Lord, teach us to regard each trial as a means for faith to be refined, so that we may grow more able to trust in Your presence and Your promised help. Amen.