Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of His praise be heard; He has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. For You, God, tested us; You refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but You brought us to a place of abundance. I will come to Your temple with burnt offerings and fulfill my vows to You - vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble. (Psalm 66:8-14)
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When I hear the word fire, two main things come to my mind: camping and destruction.
If you think about it, aside from a campfire, bonfire, or cooking fire, almost every other kind of flame is involved in destruction. Forest fires, building explosions, kitchen fires...these are just three of the many ways in which fire can destroy and bring about pain, loss, and chaos.
Though the overwhelming heat of a flame can bring death, it also can bring powerful life and beauty. The cooling ashes from a fire allow nutrients to spread into the ground, enabling plants to thrive. And out from the incredible refining heat comes the purest of metals.
Though fire seems bad, it can bring about good.
In today's psalm, the writer is proclaiming a lot of the bad that has happened in his life; the flames that he has experienced - that God has allowed him to experience. For You, God, tested us; You refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water... (v. 10-12).
Though it was difficult, painful, fearful, and heavy, every test, hardship, and burden that he experienced polished him like silver. He can look back and see that God brought him into those experiences to strengthen, develop, refine, and redefine who he was as a child of God.
He went through the fire and the water.
We have all experienced the flame of life. These are trials, struggles, burdens, and life stages that drag us down, bring out our inner struggles, and call us to step up.
These are the loss of job, the death of family member, the financial struggles you may face, the difficult sport season you are having, the stress of work, family, and even the pressure you feel at your home or office.
Sometimes, God brings the flame in order to get us uncomfortable, to have us redefine our need for Him, and to polish us towards what is coming. I love verse 14 of this psalm: I will come to Your temple with burnt offerings and fulfill my vows to You - vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble (v. 14).
You see, when we are in the flame, we often experience a time where we realize our need for God's help, provision, guidance, and wisdom. We say: "God, If you will just get me out of here...If you will just do ___________ , then I promise that I will do __________."
In the flame, we make promises. Yet out of the flame, we are quick to forget them.
For those of you who find yourself in the midst of the flames of life, I encourage you to trust the Lord's hand in this stage. One day you - like the psalmist - will look back and praise God for bringing you through.
And others of you - who find yourselves out of the flame - I challenge you with something difficult. Think about the promises that you made while you were in your struggle, your place of burden, or your hardship. Think of what you committed to do (or what you committed to not do).
My challenge is for you to reinstate those promises today. That you can say truthfully: "I will come to Your temple with burnt offerings and fulfill my vows to You - vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble."
Have a good day. We would love for you to join in on our daily discussion. Today's question: "What is something you have learned or discovered through experiencing the "flame?" Feel free to answer in today's IG post! (instagram.com/declareglory)
Greg, Declare Glory