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NIV is used unless otherwise noted.

God’s Fire

We went through fire and water, but you
brought us to a place of abundance.
Psalm 66:12

For many years, managers of Sequoia National Forest suppressed natural fires, thinking they were protecting the trees. However, they came to understand that without occasional fires, reproduction of the sequoia trees was severely stunted. With the absence of fires, underbrush grew and blocked the sunlight needed by the seedlings. The soil was drained of moisture and nutrients and was blanketed with needles and debris so that the seedlings could not be buried.

In the 1960s the National Park Service began a series of ‘prescribed burns’—fires that were deliberately set and closely monitored by rangers. These fires eliminated underbrush, returning light, moisture, and nutrients to the soil. Heat from the fire dried the green sequoia cones, causing them to open and drop their seeds onto the rich soil. Fires controlled by the park rangers proved beneficial.

The refining fire of God is also beneficial. He allows His people to go through fire so that they can grow and thrive spiritually. Speaking about His people, God says: I will bring them into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God’ (Zechariah 13:9). See, I have refined you…I have tested you in the furnace of affliction (Isaiah 48:10). Following a promise that God would be with His people, He said: When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze (Isaiah 43:2).

Though going through the fire of affliction is challenging, you and I can trust that God is with us and that He is working for our good. He is using His fire to burn away dross, which blocks His Light or hinders spiritual growth. He is using His fire to develop His character in us and to bring us to a place of abundance.

Lord, refine me through Your divine fire!

Jan Burkhart

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