We’ve been in the fire almost a year now.
The pandemic burned away life as we knew it. But in addition to a collective grief, we’ve fought our own personal, devastating fires.
Do you feel like your life is burning down around you today?
Been there. A few times in my life I’ve felt like my life was being burned to the ground. The death of my father kicked off one of those times.
I pictured myself standing among the charred embers of what had been a house. I was a sole, bereft figure. My sense of security had been incinerated with any idea about how to fix the rip in my soul.
Are you looking around today, seeing everything that gave you comfort, love and purpose in ashes at your feet?
The task to rebuild feels monumental. You don’t know where to begin.
I was 6 years old the year a fire consumed my family’s house in the middle of the night.
We were away and learned of the devastation the next morning. All I could think about were my toys. All gone.
After both my parents were dead, I found a journal Dad was keeping that year for a college course. He wrote about the fire.
“You have a completely empty feeling inside, as if you have lost all,” Dad wrote. “Then you look around and see all of your family.”
Amid the physical devastation and the emotional trauma, Dad realized he was not alone.
And you and I are not alone – even if all our family members are gone.
I love music, and lately I’ve latched onto the song Another in the Fire by Hillsong’s Taya Smith.
The title reminds me of the biblical story in Daniel that tells of three men thrown in a blazing furnace for refusing to bow down to a golden image of the king of Babylon. Instead, they worshipped and prayed to the Lord, and they were seen and reported.
King Nebuchadnezzar was furious. He had the three thrown into the furnace, and had the fire stoked to be especially hot. That’s when he saw not three but four individuals in the fire, completely unharmed.
He declared that the fourth one looked like “a son of the gods.” Biblical scholars interpret this as a pre-appearance of Jesus. He was in the fire with the three men.
The trio then came out of the fire unharmed, and Nebuchadnezzar had a change of heart about their God.
God will enter into our fire, too.
Where do we begin again after everything has burned down?
A secular way to answer that question is, “do the next right thing … and then the next.” By focusing on that one next thing, we minimize getting overwhelmed.
But there’s more good news at our disposal. We’ve got a helper, comforter, protector and powerful guide available to walk with us.
To be with us in the fire and after the fire. To give us “beauty for ashes.”
That’s from Isaiah 61, and I can’t think of a better way to conclude than to share that passage with you. Jesus read it during a visit to a synagogue, and he declared that it was being fulfilled on that very day.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.”
Are you in the fire today? I’m here to listen. You aren’t alone.
Copyright © 2021 by Toni Lepeska. All rights reserved. www.tonilepeska.com