The last couple posts about fiery experiences in my life raise the question of God’s protection as described in Isaiah 43:2,3:
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
What does it mean that “we will not be burned”? What does God’s promise of protection really mean?
God’s purposes for us go way beyond our physical protection. Yes, He is a delivering, compassionate God. But God’s goodness extends wider than our earthbound view of the good life. God’s goodness includes ultimate purpose: producing fully dependent, tested, and transformed men and women who emit the fragrance of Jesus. God in His love and goodness uses earth-shattering difficulty to test us, transform us, and to help us to run to our greatest, lasting, hope for safety—His arms.
The apostle Peter, well acquainted with suffering, said that while you rejoice in your salvation, “now for a little while you have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter1:6,7).
While safety and perseverance truly are outcomes of God’s care in our lives, He also allows painful loss and devastating events as part of the refining process, because He has greater purposes than just caring for our physical needs.
Pam and I didn’t sign up for this course in refinement, but we receive it as part of His good purposes for us.