The wildfire in our province is still burning. Many evacuees from the city that was hit the hardest have come to our city, some with amazing stories of escape. Two young women rode their horses through the flames. Many families came out with a car full of small children, and took up to 48 hours to get to food and shelter without losing patience with the cries of their little ones. Strangers are helping strangers.
This has been an awful yet incredible week. We have seen patience in dire straits rising above the ordinary. We sometimes joke about praying for patience because the Bible says we learn it through tribulation, so don’t pray for it unless you want trouble, but this really isn’t a joke.
One of Job’s friends declared that a man is born to trouble as sparks fly upward. We live in a world filled with trouble, and if I’m having a good day today, tomorrow might bring the opposite. No one in Fort Mac expected that devastating fire and many are now facing years of recovery. This will take a great deal of patience.
Chambers talks about patient endurance from the perspective of what God is doing behind the scenes during those trials of life. He gave a promise to the church in Philadelphia (an ancient city in Asia Minor):
Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10)
This church was noted for enduring under trial. Did they see their trial with any clarity? Chambers uses a word picture: patience is more than endurance because a Christian’s life in the hands of God is like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God aims at something we cannot see. He stretches and strains, and every now and then we cry out that we cannot take any more of this, but He doesn’t listen. He goes on stretching us until His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly.
This image is a good one. God uses it to tell me to trust God’s hands for whatever is testing me right now. The key is to maintain my relationship with Jesus by this patience that comes from faith, the patience describe by Job when he said, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” (Job 13:15)
Chambers insists that faith isn’t a ‘pathetic sentiment’ and I agree. Rather than a mousy acquiescence to the trials of life because I’m helpless to change anything anyway, it is an active confidence based on who God is. I cannot see Him every moment of every trial, nor can I always understand what He is doing, but I know who He is. I can be like those horses who trusted their young owners to get them beyond the wall of flames, or that child who took her father’s hand and lets him lead her through the fire.
Chambers also says faith is the heroic effort of life. I can fling myself in reckless confidence on God because I know and trust Him. He gave His all in Jesus Christ to save me. Now He wants me to give my all in total trust to Him, living through trials knowing that His life will touch all the places in mine that are yet to experience Him, places that will be exposed by the trial.
Eternal life is the kind of life that can face anything tossed at it without wavering. This makes life an adventure, even a great romance filled with opportunities for seeing the awesome goodness of God all the time. God keeps stretching me so as the sparks fly upward, I will rise with them, not to destruction or disaster, but to a place of great confidence and power.