Have you ever found yourself surrounded by volatile situations that threatened to scorch you? Maybe you are in the middle of a heated family battle or a work related issue. Perhaps your marriage is in trouble or you’re surrounded by a church crisis. All of us at one time will journey through the fire, but the Bible says, “When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you” (Isaiah 43:2).
There’s another passage of Scripture that says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). Don’t be surprised, Peter said. In other words, fiery ordeals will likely happen to all of us so it shouldn’t astonish us when they occur. We shouldn’t grumble or complain when the heat is on. We shouldn’t despair or think that God is angry with us. It’s not a time to become bitter or discouraged, nor should we give up and quit. We may not be rescued from fiery ordeals but we can be rescued in them.
Paul wrote, “In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). Scholars indicate that the flaming arrows were much like spears made from bamboo and they were filled with an explosive substance. When they made contact, they would not only stick but they would explode. The enemy will always attempt to create a fiery explosion in your life, family, or church. It’s the nature of the enemy to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Some translations use the word “darts” instead of arrow; but one source that I was reading used the word “missile.” I’m not too concerned about a dart, but a missile has the potential of destroying my family and anyone close to me. Let’s be clear, the enemy desires to scorch you and everyone associated with you.
Paul said that we have an advantage over explosive situations, because as believers we are equipped with our shield of faith. Faith is the ability to observe the unseen world more than the tangible world around us. Faith looks beyond the immediate and beholds the ultimate. True faith is not overwhelmed by the surrounding circumstances because its attention is captured by the awesome awareness of Christ. That’s why the Bible says we “do not lose heart” by what is happening to the outer man because inwardly we are being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Believers are able to view life from an eternal perspective rather than a temporal one, and therefore the flaming arrows are no real threat.
Paul indicated that faith actually has the capacity to extinguish the flaming arrows. Faith doesn’t stop the arrows from coming, but it nullifies the enemy’s potential damage caused by the arrow. So truly, what can the enemy do to a faith-filled, Spirit-filled believer? We should never be surprised when the enemy creates a fiery ordeal because it’s only a test, and all of us have been equipped to pass it. What should be our response when the fiery test is upon us? Peter continued, “To the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing” (1 Peter 4:13). Thanksgiving and praise are the only appropriate responses for someone who is walking through a fiery ordeal.
Peter went on, “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed” (1 Peter 4:14). Consider that we all desire to be blessed and many of us actually pray, “Lord, we pray for your blessings.” What is one way that we are blessed according to Peter? The answer is when we are reviled for the name of Christ. This means to be upbraided, reproached, chided, defamed, or treated with great disrespect. That sounds like a lot like scorching fire, doesn’t it? The truth is that when we endure fiery ordeals of people’s disdain and mistreatment, Peter said the “Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (1 Peter 4:14). I want God’s glory to rest on me!
I know of no one who enjoys suffering and walking through the fire, yet it’s pointless to give up in despair. James wrote, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). We’ve been equipped with everything that we need to pass the test. There’s no weapon formed against you that can prosper if you’ll remain in faith (see Isaiah 54:17). So don’t be surprised by the next fiery ordeal that you’re in; rather, begin to worship God in the midst of it knowing that you’ll emerge lacking nothing.
Father, I choose to rejoice in the midst of the fiery ordeal, and with the faith that you’ve given me I choose to extinguish the flaming arrows of evil, in Jesus’ name, amen.