Monday, February 9, 2015

Free in the Furnace

Sometimes there are events that happen in life which just don’t make sense. Events that are like a consuming fire burning up all the tomorrows we thought we’d have. A million dreams, a thousand kisses and caresses, and hundreds of memories yet to be had… all ablaze in an instant. She will always have a place in all of our lives. Even though we never got a chance to know her, her life in the womb was not in vain. She was loved, is loved and will always be loved. She was wanted, cherished, and adored. She was special, irreplaceable, unique and totally beautiful. She leaves a hole in our hearts that only the Lord can fill.

Thinking about what my brother and my sister-in-law are going through, I keep thinking about my two favorite scriptures in the bible found in Daniel 3:24-25. “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, “Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?” They replied to the king, “Certainly, O king.” He said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!”

This passage gets me every time. I close my eyes and picture the scene as the three men are violently thrown in this horrific inferno. How even the guards who were ordered to throw them in succumbed to death as the entrance to the furnace was too hot to withstand. I picture the king’s expression, the disbelief, as he rubs and squints his eyes as he questions what he sees. Then there are the three men who once were bound but somehow became free- free in the furnace. Walking about with these free men is this fourth person, the Creator of the universe, Immanuel.  He could have prevented that whole situation. He could have performed a miracle and had the men go free before even entering the hell hole. He chose not to. He chose a different path, to physically show us who He is- a God who does not watch from afar as we are thrown in these fiery furnaces of life.

We assert ourselves and want to know ‘why’ we want it all to make sense. We want to say, “Oh, this happens so that could happen and this was meant for this…” The hard truth is we can never know the full picture. How can God’s perfect plan include such horrible tragedies? We demand answers that even if He explained it would be incomprehensible to us. I equate it with a loving mom or dad holding down a screaming child so he can get a painful procedure done that is for the child’s benefit in the long run. There’s no way that small child can understand why a loving parent would hold him down while he screams out for mercy. Only the parent knows that this pain is temporary. Only that parent knows how much they love their child and how much they wish their child could trust them.

We throw our fists up in the air knowing He could have prevented this pain, yet we somehow forget we are arguing with someone who laid down His life for ours. We doubt His goodness because we cannot fathom something horrible being allowed by an all loving God. God-forbid any circumstance shake the core of what we believe and know about His character… that He is truly all loving, all knowing, infinitely holy God who by His very essence cannot be understood. Understanding His character gives us a hope, a faith that no matter what happens; His love is deeper than the ocean. No circumstance can change who He is or the extent of His love. If we only had an eternal perspective how much more life would make sense. God has a way of reminding us of the truth in the most unlikely of places, namely from the lips of a six year old boy.

My boy Silas asked innocently why I was crying. I told him, “Well Buddy, today is a sad day.” Without hesitation he said, “If you change what you’re thinking about, then you’ll be happy.” Even at six years old he instinctively knew that our feelings are controlled by our thinking. It was a profound moment as that little boy’s words sunk deep down in my spirit.

So I took my six year old boy’s advice... I thought about heaven and my brother who passed five years ago, Mike. I pictured Hannah with my nephew Sean playing together. I pictured paradise, laughing and unspeakable joy. I could almost hear the angelic music as I imagined the party atmosphere. I pictured Mike throwing the kids up in the air and I heard his laugh that I miss hearing so much. I envisioned only kind words, peace and everything eternal and forever. No end, no tragedies, no anxiety or stress. This is the true reality. This heart wrenching moment in our fleeting lives seems like the reality, but Christ calls us to faith in the unseen. In the interim where pain and death abide we must be like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. We must walk through the fiery furnace and not be consumed- all because of that fourth man, our only hope, Christ Jesus our Savior and deliverer.

I won’t pretend to know the feeling of losing my baby. The pain must be unimaginable. All I can do is cling to the promises of God. In times of despair preach to myself the truth that He loves us and He sticks closer than a brother. He died for us and will never leave us or forsake us. He identifies with us and loves our children more than we ever could. We will spend forever in heaven because of what Christ did for us. Heaven is the greatest reunion, the happiest, most joyous celebration that will never end.

With all that we know, with all the promises of God afresh in my spirit- my heart is still bruised and battered for our family. Sad that we won’t see Hannah’s bright beautiful eyes or hear her sweet little giggles this side of heaven. We won’t see her brother, Logan hold or try and feed his baby sister. Her purple butterfly room will remain empty and quiet and there will be tears, aches and pains of the deepest kind.

One day we’ll see her again and envy her life that she got to spend every moment with her Creator living in absolute beauty and perfection. Until then, we will continue to miss her. God help us to treasure and protect the hope that we will inevitably forget to have in moments of misery. God we need you now to help us remember your words, help us to hold fast the truth, and help us to trust in what we cannot see to set us free in this fiery furnace- believing in Immanuel, God-with-us.