Written by Janine Alvarado. Original post appears here.
Life is seasonal. It’s contrasting. Light and dark. Mountain and valley. Short term and long term.
We’re getting ready to head into the rainy and humid season where it will take days for our clothes to dry on the line. With a newborn and two preschoolers who firmly believe in “playing hard,” I’m a bit concerned that our apartment will soon resemble a dense jungle of uniform shorts, socks, and bed sheets hanging from every conceivable ledge and knob.
It’s only seasonal though.
Have you ever had one of those songs that just seems to really say everything that you’re walking through at the time? You know…that one song that just sucker-punches you in your gut, and you just give it all to God every single time you hear it?
A few years ago, it was “Oceans” for me. I knew the song, but then I walked through a season where God really challenged me to trust Him, and the song just broke me every time I heard it. I still remember the goodness of God in that season everytime I hear it.
Well, we’ve been walking through a season. A long, grueling season where at times I intensely longed for quiet, a hot cup of coffee with hazelnut creamer, and a porch swing overlooking a picturesque view.
And quiet. Did I mention that?
Every day has a battle. Every day has discouragement and lies from the enemy. So much to handle with care and caution, precious few things are made easy. Every day being kept in the fire, waiting for a word from the Lord.
Tears. So many tears.
While my baby was napping and I was cutting quilting pieces the other day (my surprising therapy these days), I was playing worship music in the background. On came a song I hadn’t heard before and *gut punch*…I’d found the anthem of this season.
“Another in the Fire,” by Hillsong seemed to say all that’s been pent up for me. It’s both a look back at God’s grace and power and a reminder of His presence with me from the beginning.
The last version of the chorus still gets me. Every. Single. Time.
There’ll be another in the fire standing next to me
There’ll be another in the waters
Holding back the seas
And should I ever need reminding
How good you’ve been to me
I’ll count the joy come every battle
Cause I know that’s where You’ll be
Many moons ago in youth group, I heard that apparently in ancient times, the Romans would train their war horses by making them stay put in a fiery building until their trainer released them. They had to hold it out, sweat draining from their bodies, overcome fear and worry, and just fiercely refocus on orders from their master.
I’ve recalled this so often. But praise God, He’s with me in the fire. He’s always been with me. He’s always been so good. I have to look back and remember. “Remember the signposts,” they told us in missions orientation. Remember the times God spoke, God moved, God did the impossible. “You’ll need that map,” they said.
And we did.
Over the last year, God has continually brought out a theme in my readings. Suffering and glory. Endurance and the image of God.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18).
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:29).
Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:9).
These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:7).
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us (2 Corinthians 4:7).
These are all just snippets of the rich and deep paragraphs they are part of. I could share a message on each of them; they’ve come to mean so much to me. But there has been a theme. Not one I’ve particularly enjoyed, but one that, beneath all the ash of the dross that is being burned away…somewhere beneath that, where I can find joy and strength.
In my weakness and frailty, and humble and unimpressive form as a jar of clay, I can find the power of God that raised Christ from the dead. And going back to clay…God’s ultimate work in and through me will be conforming me to His image.
Hudson Taylor, an incredible missionary to China said, “All God’s giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and presence with them.”
And so, as we still face battles and hurdles, we know that, come what may, God will have the ultimate victory, that He will use the hard and painful things to conform me to His image, to develop yet more endurance, and to truly know the power that robbed the grave which is in me and with me.
So, I can count the joy in every battle, in every impossible situation. Because I know He’s with me…and He’s the God that makes paths through the sea (or oceans…if you will!).
Janine and her husband Vicente’s vision is to see Japan transformed by the gospel and a vibrant, well-equipped community of believers emerge, ready for all God has for them! Their goal is to further the Kingdom of God by all means possible, evangelizing in this unreached country and discipling believers to be disciple makers themselves.