In comes my daughter shouting that she made Honor Roll as she bursts through the door and rolls on the couch! My son trailed behind her with his head down low.
Now she is bubblier by nature. He has always been more pessimistic. But something was different. Something was off. He wasn’t his normal self. He didn’t even say, “hello.”
He strolled into his room, laid his stuff down, sat down and just stared off.
What is going on? This is my baby. My first born. I wanted so badly to console him but he wouldn’t let me in.
Two sleepless nights went by before he asked to come into my room. Two consecutive days of no rest – not for him or for me. I even asked my daughter what was going on but she had no idea. He was desperately trying to face this on his own. But why? He didn’t have to?
On the third night, he asked to come into my room. We sat on the edge of my bed as he looked at me with tears welling up in his eyes. “Mom, can we talk?” My heart leapt hearing those words. “Of course, honey,” I responded.
“This boy got into my face in the locker room after gym. It was so weird, like he was confronting me or something. Like he wanted to fight. Then he said a racist joke. Like I can’t even tell it to you, ma. He ended by calling me the ‘N’ word, and edging everyone else on” he recalled as tears engulfed his face.
“That word was like a punch in the gut. I couldn’t even respond,” he cried as he melted into my arms. My boy was hurting. And I adopted his anguish. I am so grateful he let me in. He shouldn’t have to take this on, on his own.
The whole situation was disturbing. I couldn’t take away his pain. But I comforted him by staying by his side. I thank God he allowed me to share in his pain.
I could relate. I mean, it seems to be my lot in life. Not to have suffering removed from me but to feel relieved knowing He is with me through my toughest moments.
It reminds me of one of my favorite Bible stories. Scripture recounts the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – three Jews who refuse to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar. These three men were faithful. Each time the king demanded they worship him they would respond that “…the Lord would deliver them.” And one of the most powerful statements yet, “But if not, be it known to you,” as they a rejected the king over and over. (Daniel 3:16-18)
At this point one would think God would swoop on a magic carpet and rescue them. After all, they’ve stood up for what was right. They’ve taken a stand. They are faithful servants. So were they spared suffering?
NO. They are thrown into the fiery furnace.
And does the door swing open? Are they saved from danger?
NO. Instead, the temperature of the furnace is turned up seven times hotter.
And isn’t that how it works? You do the right thing and you’re punished. At least that’s how it goes for me? You pray for a break. But…
NO. Instead the flames grow and the fire gets hotter.
But that is what makes their stance so powerful. That they’d recognize danger is around the corner and still they say God will rescue them and “if NOT, be it known to you” I still won’t bow down. This will not break me. And the story does not end there.
“Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, ‘Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?’ … ‘But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:25-26)
The king shouted “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” (Daniel 3:27)
What an amazing testament! Praise be to God! That the Lord would accompany
us in bad times. That we’d not be alone. That He’d be fully present in the furnace.
And not only that…that we’d come out on the other side – FREED!
And “the hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.” (Daniel 3:27) The only damage the fire caused was to burn off their shackles.
The truth is we will encounter good times and endure bad ones.
But I praise God that we are not alone in our struggles.
The Lord is available to us, if we come to Him.
I pray you Praise God no matter what. I pray you see the Lord standing with you in the furnace. And you come out free on the other side – Ahhhh, FREEDOM!
So what battle are you facing? Is your head down low?
Know that when you hurt, He aches and He wants to be with you in your roughest moments.
Like my son, I think our tendency is to hide and internalize pain. But Jesus is waiting for you with arms wide open. He will see you through the suffering. Just refuse to surrender and turn to Him when it hurts.
I pray that He delivers you and that you know in your heart of hearts that even if does He not deliver you, you LET IT BE KNOWN that you will worship Him. He will be by your side during your pain. He will love and comfort you through it. And He will see to it that you are freed.