How is GOD using the fire and storms in your life?

I’m not exactly sure when it was, but for a period of time, I kept finding myself reading verses in the Bible about being in the fire or storm. Daniel 3:9-30, Isaiah 43:1-5, Matthew 8:23-27, the book of Job and others. I’m not sure what I thought at the time, but looking back, I can see that GOD wanted to prepare me that I would be going into the fire…a hot 🥵🔥 one!

Since October 22, 2015 I feel like I have been in the fire. That is on-going pain from surgery with no answers to why, spinal pain which was in the 7-8/10 pain levels for several years (as well as occasionally now, but regularly around 4-6/10 pain levels), for several years inability to get regular sleep, doctors unwilling to help, insurance denials, workplace falsely accusing me of theft, loss of beloved animals, mental breakdown, weakness in my legs taking my freedom to drive, autoimmune disease, noise/light/smell sensitivities, depression, migraine headaches…

; BUT GOD has been faithful throughout. Majority of the verses I continued to see over and over were about being in a fire or storm, BUT most importantly the verses were about WHO IS WITH US WHEN WE GO THROUGH THE FIRE OR THE STORM!

Isaiah 43:1-5 -But now thus says the LORD, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your GOD, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.

Remember Shadrach Meshach and Abednego; GOD didn’t put out the fire, in fact, the fire was stoked seven times hotter! ;BUT GOD was in the fire with them. It’s not about GOD putting out the fires, it’s about who is in the fire with you.

In Matthew 8:23-27, the One who controls all things, including the weather, was in the boat with the disciples. JESUS calmed the storm with a Word.

For just over six and a half years, I have been in what feels like a fire that’s gotten a little bit hotter over time. I’ve learned that the key to not fearing is to know that GOD is with us through it.

I have also started to see that going through the fire is about healing and restoration. This happens when we surrender every aspect of the fires and storms to GOD and allow Him to use it for our good.

Today it occurred to me that maybe GOD wants to use the fires in our lives to give others life. I was reading a devotional about “heaping coals on the heads of our enemies” and remembered that in the past is was a blessing to give someone a hot coal. It meant they would be able to warm their house, cook food, warm water for drinks and baths, etc.

I’m not quite sure what it would look like to use the fire I am in to give life to others. Maybe instead of just existing in the fires we are in, we can look outside of our fires to encourage others who are going through it and we can pray for others asking GOD to show Himself in their fire.

How is GOD using the fires and/or storms in your life? What is He teaching you? Please let me know in the comment section.

Despite the fires in my life, I desire to see the Church, the Bride of Christ, united together in love. I desire to see the Bay Area to become the Valley of GOD’s Heart’s Delight. I’m not sure how I can be part of this, other than prayer, but I am at least asking GOD to use me.

I pray that GOD will show Himself faithful to you. I pray that GOD will show you, that even though your fire might be getting hotter or that your boat is about to be overtaken by waves, He is with you, He is for you and He is in control of the fires and storms. I pray that GOD will empower you to stop crying out to be saved from the fire and the storm to see that you are safe in the fire and the storm BECAUSE HE IS WITH YOU. I pray that GOD will encourage you, strengthen you and show you purpose inside the fire and storm. I pray that GOD will remove all hopelessness, anxiety, fear, dejectedness, etc and give you His peace that surpasses all understanding to guard your heart and mind. I pray that GOD will soften any part of your heart and mind that has become hardened because of the fire and storm. And I pray that GOD will renew your love for Him, allow a fire to burn inside your heart and that He will show you new purpose. May He build something beautiful from the ashes, bringing healing and restoration in and through your life because of what you are going through.

This is the end….

 

Ok, so you are probably wondering why I put a funny cheese commercial at the beginning of this blog post.  Well, it’s kind of long story. So, my short-term disability ran out on October 21, 2016. I thought I was going to be getting a fantastic job, but not quite sure if I was ready to be working full-time with lots of travel. Turns out, they did not feel I had enough experience in an area and not enough knowledge in another area. So I didn’t get the job.

I should note that prior to my short-term disability running out, I applied for Social Security Disability, which takes about 3 months to be approved or denied.

Back to not getting the job. I’m not sure who I spoke to, but was told to file for unemployment because I did not get the job but no longer on short-term disability. I was accepted for unemployment benefits right away, but I had to go through a screening call to make sure I qualify. Well, I got the call, which was not an easy one! The woman wanted to know if I was disabled or employable. I tried to explain that I am employable with limitations. She would not accept my answer. “You are either disabled or employable, Ms Wilson, you can’t be both!” She wanted a note from my doctor saying I was employable without limitations. I felt I was between a rock and a hard place. I won’t tell you that I didn’t cry. I did!

Almost immediately, the Message version of Isaiah 43:1-4 came to my mind.

When You’re Between a Rock and a Hard Place

43 1-4 But now, God’s Message,
    the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
    the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
    I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
    When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
    it won’t be a dead-end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
    The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
    all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
    That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
    trade the creation just for you.

Also, a song started in my heart:

When you’re up against a struggle that shatters all your dreams
And your hopes have been cruelly crushed by Satan’s manifested schemes
And you feel the urge within you to submit to earthly fears
Don’t let the faith you’re standing in, seem to disappear

Praise the Lord, He can work through those who praise Him
Praise the Lord, for our God inhabits praise
Praise the Lord, for the chains that seems to bind you
Serve only to remind you that they drop powerless behind you
When you praise Him

I felt comforted by God. I know He loves me, He has a plan and He is in control. Later in the day I ended up at a Job Center for a class. Ironically my badge had expired even though I was doing things to keep it active, so I had to meet with a counselor for a new badge. I met with a lady who is a Sister-in-Christ and she told me that she could not tell me what to do but to trust God to show me what was the best thing to do. She explained that with me being “employable with limitations” that I would qualify for job training (which I was not eligible of getting before because I didn’t qualify and because they didn’t have funding) and possibly help from Department of Rehabilitation (which I also had applied for).

I had pretty much decided that I would not worry about losing unemployment thinking I might get Social Security Disability. However, I called UCSF to talk to them about what they thought I should do. No one contacted me back in time to do anything about unemployment, so when the letter of denial for unemployment came, I was not surprised at all.

This morning, I was looking at my bookshelf and opened a devotional book I have not read yet. There was a challenge on the page I turned to, so I read it since I like challenges. It read:

“Challenge: Today make the LORD your dwelling place. Let Him be the one that delivers you from your enemies. As you talk and pray to God, ask Him to show you the best way to handle a current crisis. Like He did with David, He will deliver you. May God bless you.”

I decided to verbally acknowledge the LORD as my dwelling place to at least take part of the challenge. I started to pray, “God, I don’t have a current crisis that I know of….” Immediately I thought “you won’t receive Social Security Disability.” I knew that it was the LORD and not the enemy. And as crazy as it may seem, I heard the mailman drop the mail in the box right then. Sure enough to His word, I received a letter from Social Security that I do not qualify for Social Security Disability because according to my doctor at UCSF I am “employable with limitations”.

I could not believe it! Well I could, but I couldn’t. The same thing that disqualified me from receiving unemployment was also disqualifying me from receiving Social Security Disability! Wow! That is just unbelievable!

No Bible verses came to mind. No songs of hope sprang up in my heart. Just the enemy telling me that I thought I was at the end before but now I was at the end. “There’s no hope for Michelle…she will not be able to get the training she thought she would be able to get since she won’t have any form of income from State or Government!”

Then a song arose but not one from God. “This is the end, beautiful friend, This is the end, my only friend, the end. Of our elaborate plans, the end.”

I was sure that I have seen a video of a mouse in a trap with this same music playing. You think, “poor mouse!” It truly looks like the end for the poor critter. And that is what it feels like for me right now. But the mouse ate strong cheese and as a result was able to “bench press” the bar that had snapped to take life from its body to the tune of Eye of the Tiger! Hee hee! My God is much stronger than the strongest cheese! He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.  He is my dwelling place and He will deliver me from my enemies.

I love when I can laugh at Satan. He may think that I am at the end, “But my God shall supply all my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19). I laugh at Satan, not because I know God’s plan or how provision will come in, but because I know God is faithful!

Tonight when I talked to my housemate about my day, she told me, “I want you to know, you will not be kicked out of my house if you can not come up with rent! Just know that, ok?” I am already praising God for the blessing of the beautiful home I am living in as well as the generosity my housemate has already shown me. Now I praise God all the more for an assurance of housing in a time of uncertainty with my finances. God is already showing Himself faithful!  Praise God not only is He my dwelling place, but He has provided a dwelling place!