I stand at a distance and watch as the flames consume the foliage that has been piled for weeks. The heat is intense, and the process seems to unfold at lightning speed. What once, was a constant presence (vibrant and alive) is suddenly nevermore. Although the process seemed quick, it was much more involved than it first appeared.

I watched, as the fire inhaled the surrounding oxygen and breathed out its wrath. The heat, which seemed to draw nearer than the flames, left the leaves recoiling in fear and reduced to a shadow of their former glory. At times, the intensity was so great that the leaves would turn black before spontaneously combusting into an orange ball of relief. Yes, it was quick, but it was still a process.

Life is much life that foliage in the flames. Our circumstances, seem to consume us leaving us to wonder how suddenly things have changed. Disaster, without fair notice, has swept in and taken over. Our lives can be turned upside down in a moment’s notice – the resulting shell shock is enough to do us in alone. Yet, we march on, hoping that as quickly as things have changed, perhaps they will just as quickly revert back, back to a time when we were comfortable and safe…they do not.

What happens then, when life is falling apart at the seams and the flames of our circumstance threaten to extinguish the very life we have come to loathe? For those on the outside, those who may be watching the fire burn…know the process. Know what to look for in those that are suffering in silence. Perhaps, they can be saved from what would appear to be the inevitable – their own destruction.

Sadly, I have known too many people in my lifetime that couldn’t overcome their circumstances. They, like the leaves were consumed. The pain they had come to know had finally exceeded their desire to live, and by their own hands they would bring what seemed like the only available relief…death. It was, in many cases, during these times that the destructive process was visible. Visible, in that they began to show a lack of concern for others; their own circle of friends grew increasingly smaller; the things that had previously captured their attention could no longer incite even a shred of interest.

These are just some of the symptoms in a process as complex as it is quick. I know, only because I have been there myself. When the consuming fire of circumstance flooded my heart with pain and made no offer of relief…I wanted it all to end, or I would end it all. This was my new reality; I was shell shocked and broken beyond repair.

Thankfully, I remembered the scriptures that dreadful night.

I remembered that Ecclesiastes says “there is
nothing new under the sun.” It was important for me to remember that others had gone through the same torment and had lived to tell their stories…I needed hope.

I remembered that we are instructed in Romans “to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.” That if I was to get out of my funk, I needed to think differently about my problems. Instead of seeing them as problems, I had to look at them as solutions…Solutions to the suffering of others. If I could live through this, I thought, then someday I can show someone else the way.

Lastly and most importantly, I had to remember the fall. Yes, the fall of man, which invited sin and suffering into a once perfect order. The pain that was inflicted upon my family, was done so because the nature of Adam (which is the nature of sin) had manifested itself in someone I loved deeply. I needed to be reminded that sin is real and so is hell. That I have an obligation, seeing to it that everyone I know can be shown how to exchange that old nature for a new one…I needed a Gospel reminder.

Perhaps it is the case that someone reading this is in the fire and without some sort of relief are in danger of providing their own. If that be the case please take the time to reach out and ask for help, whether it’s myself or someone else…just please reach out. Your life matters more than you know.