Many times in life (like now for me!) we’re faced with what seems like insurmountable odds. Such obstacles are those that we allow to sap our strength and question our faith. These trials by fire strike at our very core in what often can be described as character defining moments. To help illustrate this point, I want to paint a picture of the power of fire. Its ability to destroy virtually everything in its path, including property, forests, and plains. Fire can quite simply be summed up as devastatingly uncontrollable. But is it always bad? Can we only focus on the negative destructive forces or is there growth that can come from it?
Let’s answer those questions by looking at how nature responds to her trials by fire. No doubt we’ve seen or experienced the devastation of fire and its smoldering charred path. But were you aware that several plant species use fire as an opportunity for growth? For example, some plants shield their vital organs, like the Ponderosa pine, while others are equipped with moist tissues to absorb the heat. Others, like the Australian grass trees see fire as an opportunity to bloom and may in fact only bloom after a fire. Still other plants use fire as a way to promote their own reproduction by replacing those plants that were scorched by the flames. Fire also has the power to sweep through a forest clearing out underbrush and weeds that would eventually choke out other vegetation. So essentially, in nature, fire is capable of bringing growth.
How can we relate this to our lives? Well, perhaps the most inspirational biblical figure for growth via trial by fire is Job. Job was a God fearing, blameless, and upright man. He would be considered wealthy by even today’s standards and had been blessed with 7 sons and 3 daughters. As many of you might already know, God allowed Satan to test Job’s resolve and his faithfulness to the Lord. Satan took all of Job’s wealth, every child of his along with his servants and livestock died, everything was gone. Except for Job’s spirit; that’s the one thing that Satan had no control over. Job’s reply to his losses was, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21 Job was then afflicted physically with painful sores. Despite his wife’s admonition, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Job was steadfast in his reply, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job 2:9-10 In all of these trials, Job remained unwavering and did not sin. Though most of Job is actually a poem, it might best be described as a “tragedy”. What follows throughout the rest of the book is a continuation of Job’s trials, all the while being mocked by people for not cursing God. But Job weathered the fiery storm. After his storm, the Lord blessed Job with twice as much wealth than he originally had and blessed the later part of his life more than the first.
The story of Job should serve as inspiration to not only worship God in times of blessings, but also praise Him in our storms. In every trial there is opportunity for growth, but it’s how we respond to it that defines who we are. Our lives should mirror nature’s response to fire by exhibiting growth and Job’s resolve to remain steadfast in the Lord during that process. We likewise should see it as an opportunity to prepare ourselves for trials spiritually through prayer and reading the Word of God. And they will come, Christian or not. We need to view these times as character building moments that allow us to bloom and seize control of areas in our lives that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to grow in.