Oftentimes when it begins to rain I will decide it is time to go for a walk. I will put on my coat and my hat, and as everyone else flees indoors I will step out into the downpour and tumult to begin the trek down our long gravel driveway. I smell the freshly cleaned air, I hear the rain colliding with the leaves, the branches, the road, and I feel the beauty of something greater than me. I find myself filling with awe, consumed by wonder. I become aware of the Father’s hand wrapping around me, guiding me, guarding me. As I turn the corner I sense the whisper of God in my ear, understand the two-way nature of prayer. And I realize that everyone else ran inside to get away from this.
Don’t get me wrong: I know that the rain is wet and cold and at times downright unpleasant. I understand why people would want to avoid it. I even do myself sometimes. But I also think that by not stepping out into the rain, by not taking that chance of getting wet, we sometimes miss out on the beauty that is as fresh as a glistering raindrop on a flower.
I’m sure it’s not hard to see where I’m going with this, but nevertheless I’m going there anyway. How often have we not seen the very best in our lives because we’ve been afraid to go out in the rain? How often do we, in an effort to avoid the uncomfortable, forsake the very thing God intended to use to unleash His glory?
Of course, a lot of the time we have no choice about whether we are going out into the dark, the storm, the unknown. Many times there are just no other options. Even still, how we deal with our tempest from the outset can determine where our journey will ultimately end up.
When we’re in that darkness and that cold, are we looking for the little glimmers of glory? When that proposition stares us in the face and it scares us to death, are we nonetheless strong enough to embrace it anyway?
Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (better known by their slave names Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) were stabbed in the back by the jealous wizards and philosophers who attended with them in the king’s court. Soon the king offered them a choice: they could bow and worship the golden image he had set before them, or they could be burned alive in a furnace of unimaginable fury. The three young men, however, did not waver. With steely eyes they looked their king in the face and as one voice declared: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” The king raged and ordered them thrown into the inferno. Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were bound hand and foot, and then they were tossed into the blazing furnace. With a self-satisfied smirk the king peered down into his handiwork. He gasped. “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” he asked. “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)
Their dark night of the soul came with fire. What did yours come with? And, more importantly, how will you choose to answer it?
We were never promised “the good life,” pain-free and divorced from suffering. Just the opposite, in fact: we were promised trials and tribulations. But the question then becomes, what are we going to do about those things? Will we run from them, hide our faces and bemoan our fate? Or will we choose to see the beauty glimmering all around us? Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah changed a nation with their resolve. Who knows: maybe yours will, too.