"But the Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace…."
Deuteronomy 4: 20
King James Version
"Out of the Fire"
"In times of affliction we commonly meet with the sweetest experiences of the love of God."
Do I feel I am in the "furnace of affliction" at this time?
How am I trusting God to "bring me out of the furnace?"
"Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces."
"A righteous (woman) may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers (her) from them all."
Psalm 34: 19
Since I live in Arizona, it goes without saying, that the summer months are often oppressively warm. This summer one day when I was in Phoenix, the thermometer registered 118º and the humidity was over 65%. After having to get in and out of my car in these oven-like conditions, I was thrilled when I finally arrived at my mother's house where the air-conditioning kept the temperature at a pleasant 76°.
For all of you, around the world, who know what it is like to live in hot conditions, the idea of being spiritually stuck in a furnace has a reality to it that isn't just uncomfortable, it is downrightly unpleasant.
Like a gush of cool air, Deuteronomy 4: 20 gives refreshment to the person who feels the fires of affliction burning around them. This week, as one urgent prayer request after another has been emailed to Transformation Garden, I'm impressed with how timely and gracious the words found in Deuteronomy 4: 20 are. "The Lord took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of His inheritance" (The Message). You might be thinking that the "inheritance" of God's loving-kindness applied to the children of Israel, but let's look in Colossians 3: 24, where you'll find that in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul assures the believing Christians that, "Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3: 24, K.J.V.). You and I need never doubt the inheritance of God's gracious kindness, through the gift of His Son Jesus, for it is our inheritance as well.
This means the "iron-smelting" furnace which threatens to grind you into the ground – will not consume you! Each of us is promised we will be "brought out," or as the Hebrew states so descriptively, "plucked out and carried out." If the problems you and I face are so great they knock us down, God promises to carry us out of the fire, if need be.
But there's more to this "out of the furnace" promise. In Psalm 34: 19 (K.J.V.), the text I shared earlier, we are told that many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers us from all our troubles. I want to go one step further, and read the next verse: Psalm 34: 20 (K.J.V.), which promises: "He keepeth all (her) bones not one of them is broken." When I read this text several months after my husband and I were hit head-on by a drunk driver who was trying to kill himself, I thought of the over 35 broken bones I had and the over 40 broken bones my husband had. Believe me, I felt as though we were in the furnace and our legs and feet were so smashed-up we couldn't have walked out of the fire if we had tried. "Where was the 'carrying you' out of the fire without any broken bones," I wondered?
It was at that moment when these words penned by G. Campbell Morgan took on a whole new meaning to me: "No affliction would trouble a child of God, if they knew God's reason for sending it." As I've shared with you before, without this catastrophic event in my life, there NEVER would have been a Transformation Garden. And I can't imagine my life now without the "garden." I can't imagine a day where I believe my life wasn't spared to pray for someone else who needs the encouragement God gave me when I needed it most. I can't imagine having a day when I'm not praying for you and your needs.
And by the way, that part in Psalm 34: 20 about your "bones" not being broken. Well, in Hebrew, the word "broken," as used in this form, means "destroyed or quenched." The old devil may have thought he could destroy my bones – but he didn't. All those fractures healed – not perfectly – but I am still alive and I can walk even though I was told I might not be able to. And the devil may have thought he could "quench," or as the Hebrew defines, "extinguish" my love for God, but he was wrong again! For God "plucked" me out of the furnace. To all of you who fear the flood of affliction is going to take you down and drown you – it won't happen! God keeps His word. I know! I'm a living testimony everyday to the truth found in Deuteronomy 4: 20, "The Lord hath brought you forth out of the iron-furnace."
"As sure as God puts His children in the furnace of affliction, He will be with them in it."
C. H. Spurgeon
"I asked the Lord
for a bunch of fresh flowers
but instead he gave me an ugly cactus
with many thorns.
I asked the Lord
for some beautiful butterflies
but instead he gave me
many ugly and dreadful worms.
I was threatened,
I was disappointed,
But after many days,
I saw the cactus bloom
with many beautiful flowers,
and those worms became
flying in the spring wind.
God's way is the best way."
Written from prison
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
Available May 2009