To say the last 18 months were difficult for some people would be an understatement. Many of us faced trials we haven’t had to deal with before. Isolation was a hardship in and of itself, but it also made some difficult times even more trying. Where is God in this? Where is He when we face the unimaginable? Where is He when our world is seemingly burning down around us? Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Understanding what God does and doesn’t do is something that is beyond our comprehension. We are not all-knowing. What we can do, though, is search His Word and trust that what he says is true. God doesn’t promise us that we won’t have hard times. He does tell us what we can do during those times. Look carefully at the words in Isaiah 43:2
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”
Isaiah 43:2 ESV
The Word doesn’t say when you walk on water. Likewise, the Word doesn’t say when you walk around the water. The Word says, “when you pass through the waters.” The Word says, “when you walk through the fire.” We are going to face difficult times in our lives. I’ve heard it put this way: you’re in one of three places: coming out of a tough time, in a tough time, you’re about to go through a tough time.
When a driver straps in a race car, there has been much preparation ahead of time. The car was set up, practice laps were run, and countless hours were spent in the shop. But, unfortunately, sometimes things don’t go right. Were the proper safety devices put in the car and put in correctly? Does your fire suit fit properly? These things can make the difference between a tragic outcome and a seemingly miraculous one.
What about our trials in life? What do we lean on? Let’s look back at Isaiah 43:2. The word says, “I will be with you” and “you will not be burned.” God promises that as believers when we face trials, He will be right there with us.
The prophet Daniel wrote about three servants that faced a trial with a life and death consequence. Obey God or obey man. They chose God and faced certain death.
“Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.”
Daniel 3:19-28 ESV
God was with them in the fire. When they were in the fire, they were not consumed. The crucial part of what happened here was trust. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego put their complete trust in God. It was then that God delivered them. But they trusted that even if he didn’t, their outcome with God was better than one without Him.
How deeply do we trust God? Do we trust that he is all good? Trusting God doesn’t happen in the middle of a bad situation. It happens when we grow deeper with Him and build a relationship with him. We start that by acknowledging Him and reading his Word. Just like the driver and crew that put effort into safety before they even left for the track, we need to spend time with God, building our relationship with Him, before the hard times come, so that we will trust Him.
God sends the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us. The Holy Spirit prompts and directs us to things that will lead us closer to God. A short time ago, I was with a driver that had just been in a pretty bad wreck. The driver told me that they felt a nudging to tighten the belts in the caution just before the wreck. They complied, and the result was they walked away sore and shaken but uninjured. It’s a reminder that God is with us and cares for us. I can tell you that this driver’s trust in God was strengthened that day.
Sometimes with trust, we expect God to speak in a booming voice and things to be clear and completely fit our “plan.” As believers, too often we want to give up when we think we aren’t hearing from God when things of the world aren’t going our way. I’ve heard people say, “God if I was just with you now things would be wonderful.” We’re not alone in feeling that this world is too much to handle. The prophet Elijah was pretty discouraged and ran away and was hiding in a cave.
There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:9-13 God wasn’t in the loud things; he was in the whisper. So, take a moment and pause and reflect on God’s Word instead of trying to insert Him on your own.
Your trial will NOT last forever. Either God will take it away, or God will call you home. You’re not alone in what you are facing. God is with you. Others have walked the road before you, and I encourage you to talk with them. If you’re struggling, reach out to one of our chaplains as well. We aren’t meant to fight the fires by ourselves. On the flip side, if you’re not facing difficulties right now, enjoy the things you’re blessed with and come alongside someone and let them know you care for them. Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! Remember that your prayerful support and donations help us continue this ministry. Thank You.