When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned…
The air suddenly seemed heavier. My heart began to race, and my breathing became harder. Once again my mind raced back to that horrible time, and what had been a sunny day, became obliterated by painful memories. Once again I found myself at a “pain place”. Living in the same town where my husband took his life, my life still takes me to the place where the detectives told me they had found his body; and I sometimes have to drive very near the place where he killed himself. Fifteen years have passed. Life has moved on, and I have had many happy days… but something about these two places transport every emotion back to that gut-wrenching time. These are my pain places. We all have places that remind us of pain--where years-gone-by emotions can suddenly, almost physically, overwhelm us. For some of us, it is as if we have built an altar there, and we worship that pain. But do we have to?
As I stood in one of my pain places last week, and began to feel my body shudder with those memories; God reminded me I had never stood there alone—“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.” Isa 43:2. God alone “heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds” (Ps 147:3). It was as if He was asking me to finally tear down that pain monument, and replace it with a monument to Him. He beckoned me to walk in freedom-- even in this place which reminded me of so much pain. He asked me to allow this pain place to cause me to worship all He has done for me rather than all the enemy had tried to do. Remembering that God inhabits the praise of His people, I began to silently cry out praises to Him. I thanked Him for picking up my broken heart, for providing for me and my little boys, and for carrying me when I did not think I could go on. As I remembered God’s goodness, it was if the demons dropped their weapons and moved on. The air began to feel lighter, and I began to notice the laughter of people around me. Once again, my faithful Father brought victory out of darkness. Once again, I looked up at Heaven and smiled-- remembering He is my refuge and an ever-present help in times of trouble (Ps 46:1) and places of trouble. That day my place of pain became a place of praise.
Now I won’t lie. I fully expect the next time I find myself (walking through the fire at my pain place)… I will remember the pain… but I won’t be consumed (I won’t be burned) by it. I will instead praise my Father who has always been with me, and who is still teaching me to walk closer to Him. He is peace, hope and joy. And we can remember that not only in our places of victory… but maybe, even more, in our places of pain.
Prayer: Father, may those places of pain…those places where we received the bad news, those places where we have hurt so deeply serve to remind us of your faithfulness. May we tear down the altars to the pain, and with your help, rebuild them as altars of praise. As we stand in these places, may we be remember we, are indeed, still standing… because of You. Thank you Lord that you alone can bring beauty from ashes in everything and at every place. Amen.