Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Singing in the Fire

“When the fire of affliction draws songs of praise from us, then indeed we are purified, and our God is glorified….Singing in the fire!  Yes!  God helping us, if that is the only way to get harmony out of these hard apathetic hearts, let the furnace be heated seven times hotter than before.”1 - Susannah Spurgeon'
  This blogpost was originally going to focus on physical affliction,  a subject I’m familiar with.   For almost thirty years I have been laid aside off and on with  ME/CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)  and other health issues.    CFS is the illness that has caused Laura Hillenbrand, author of  Seabiscuit and Unbroken,  to be housebound for years and she tells her remarkable story to Elle Magazine.
A stubborn relapse this year has caused me to  spend most of my time in bed again so  I’ve been reading up on the assorted  maladies of  believers  throughout history;   Job,  John Calvin,  both Charles and Susannah Spurgeon, Amy Carmichael,  and others.
When I realized  how many of these sickly  saints  had also suffered with a variety of other  serious trials I was reminded  of Job’s words,  man is born for trouble,  as sparks fly upward.”  (Job 5:7)   

 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,” James 1:2  
 Note that  James  does not describe any particular  kind of trouble.     Trials  come in all shapes and sizes:   Illness,  disability,  death of a loved one,  financial ruin,  divorce,  a prodigal child,  betrayal,  personal sin or failure,  persecution;  and the list goes on.     Nevertheless,  all adversity that befalls the Christian serves essentially  the  same purpose.    James goes on to say that we are tested through our trials for the purpose of producing an enduring faith.  

The moment we are saved God begins His sanctifying work in us.    All of our sins, past, present and future,  have been forgiven because of the blood sacrifice  of Jesus Christ,  and now the Lord begins to  “disciplines us for our good so that we may share His holiness.” (Heb.12:10).    This is  not the kind of discipline  that has to do with punishment  because Christ has already taken that for us.   Rather this is the kind of discipline that an athlete or soldier would undergo to train for a competition or battle.   

Because He loves us,  God  prunes us so that we will  bear fruit and it is the Word that acts as  His pruning shears.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”   Hebrews 4:12
But it is through the vehicle of affliction that we are driven to His Word.  
What, then, does affliction do?"  you ask.   Well, if I may say so, affliction is the handle of the knife—affliction is the grindstone that sharpens up the Word of God.  Affliction is the dresser which removes our soft garments and lays bare the diseased flesh so that the surgeon's lancet may get at it.   Affliction makes us ready to feel the Word, but the true pruner is the Word in the hand of the Great Husbandman.” 2 – Charles Spurgeon
The writer of Hebrews reveals the final product that adversity delivers.
“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”  Hebrews 12:10-11 
Did you catch  that the peaceful fruit of righteousness  comes  afterwards?  When James tells us to “count it all joy”,   he didn’t mean that we should be masochists who  enjoy suffering.    It is the end result of  our suffering that causes us to rejoice!   
Consider our greatest example,  Jesus.    No human suffering in the history of mankind  could even begin to compare with the agony that Christ was about to  suffer on the cross on our behalf.     And yet, He was able to endure it because  He knew of the joy that would lie beyond it. 
“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:2
The best thing we can do when we are faced with any kind of serious trial is to submit to the loving hand of  God under it and try to rest in the promise that it will ultimately yield many rewards.
  • We will be drawn closer to God:  Psalm 88:9
  • We will learn to depend upon Him:  2 Corinthians 1:9
  • We will be humbled:  2 Corinthians 12:7
  • We will learn obedience:  Psalm 119:67
  • We will share His holiness:  Hebrews 12: 10-11
  • We will  learn that God’s grace is sufficient: 2 Corinthians 12:9
  • We will  share in the fellowship of suffering with others: 2 Corinthians 1:4  
  • We will learn perseverance:  Romans 5:3
  • And in the end...
"This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”  2 Corinthians 4:17

1. Singing in the Fire by Faith Cook:  Banner of Truth Trust; 1995; pg. 34
2. C.H. Spurgeon, Sermon No. 774:  October 6, 1867,  delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington


  1. Well written--I enjoyed this post!

  2. "I'm scared to death that I'm sliding into another relapse. If you happen upon a magic wand, wave it my way." How very sad. Your outlook on life, and living with your health issues, is much more hopeful and Christ-centered than Laura's. Thank you for sharing and may God continue to show you His peace and grace.

    1. Thank you so much. I do understand her feelings though as I've had them myself. Laura's case is severe as mine also has been at times - especially in the early years. There's just no way to describe it. But God's grace is sufficient.